(Toronto, ON)  Canada Basketball (CB) today unveiled a new
organizational structure intended to help develop the domestic
basketball community and continue to propel the national teams to world
supremacy.  Created as part of a comprehensive high performance
strategic plan, Canada Basketball has created two new positions  and is
pleased to appoint Renato Pasquali as the Technical Director and Michele
O’Keefe as the Director of Basketball Operations.  Pasqual's first official assignment will to be in Winnipeg this weekend and will present on two of the days at Basketball Manitoba's Super Coaches Clinic.  Canada Basketball has also extended the terms of Senior National Team Coaches Leo Rautins and Allison McNeill into 2012.  For more on the appointments...

“Canada Basketball is thrilled to be in a position to grow our sport from an organizational standpoint, which in turn will only enhance all aspects of the game that is delivered on the court from the grassroots to the elite level across this country,” said Wayne Parrish,  Executive Director and CEO of Canada Basketball.

Renato Pasquali, an assistant coach with Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team since 2009, brings a wealth of expertise of the international game, having served as coach and consultant with national teams and professional clubs throughout Europe.  In addition, he has played an integral role in the development of game at the domestic level in Canada.  Working closely with Michael MacKay, Manager of Coaching Education and Development, Pasquali conducted cross-country tours  in 2009 to share his knowledge of the FIBA game with young coaches and athletes.

“Renato’s excellent resume, his involvement on the technical side of our men’s senior program and the enthusiastic reception to his work last year during two cross-country tours left us trying to find the best way to involve him on a more consistent basis,’ added Parrish.  “Being able to establish the role of Technical Director and having someone of Renato’s calibre involved is a very exciting opportunity for this organization and the game of basketball across the country.”

Michele O’Keefe comes to Canada Basketball after serving for three years as the Executive Director for Ontario Basketball, one of the largest provincial sport organizations in the nation.  O’Keefe has an extensive history with basketball and with the national governing body.

“Michele's passion for basketball, combined with her leadership skills, has enabled Ontario Basketball to address many opportunities for the development of our sport,” stated Ken Urbach, President of Ontario Basketball.  “She has strengthened communications and partnerships with other stakeholders in Ontario that will sustain the OBA's role in the basketball community.  On behalf of the Ontario Basketball Board of Directors, I thank Michele for all her hard work and wish her much success at Canada Basketball.”

Having been involved in the sport as a player, administrator, and coach at both the provincial and national level, O’Keefe is eager to join Canada Basketball and continue to expand upon the strategic plan and relationships with key stakeholders in the basketball community, both domestically and internationally.

“Michele’s range of experience, her deep roots in the basketball community as a player, coach and administrator and the relationships she has built at all levels across the country make her an absolutely unique individual,” added Parrish.  “While we’ve made headway in knitting the community together at both the grassroots and elite levels in recent years, there is much work still to be done building on that to develop the overall structure that will consistently produce outstanding international-calibre athletes. Michele is a perfect fit to oversee that process.”

Senior National Team Coaching Update:

Canada Basketball is also pleased to announce contract renewals for the Senior National Team Head Coaches.  Both Leo Rautins and Allison McNeill will continue to serve in their respective positions through the end of the quadrennial in 2012.  With the system alignment of the elite pathway from the age-group squads  to the senior teams, both coaches have a great opportunity to incorporate up-and-coming young talent into the national team fold.

McNeill, a native of Salmon Arm, B.C. has been the head coach of the Senior Women’s National Team (SWNT) since 2002.  During her tenure she has led the SWNT to bronze medal finishes at the FIBA Americas Championship in 2003, 2005 and 2009.  McNeill’s leadership helped drive the SWNT to compete in back-to-back FIBA World Championships (2006, 2010).

Parrish added, “Allison deserves tremendous credit for the growth and development of our women’s national program in recent years. She has re-built the senior team with an infusion of young talent and has continued to grow and mature as a head coach.”

Toronto native, Leo Rautins is a former Team Canada, NBA and international player, and is a member of the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame (’97).  Since taking the reins as head coach of the Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT), Rautins has raised the profile of Canada’s elite male athletes. Most recently, he led the team to a fourth place finish at the 2009 FIBA Americas Championship, earning a berth to the 2010 FIBA World Championship.  This was the first appearance for the SMNT at the world’s greatest basketball event since 2002.

“With the growing recognition of Canada Basketball on the international stage, Leo has done a quality job at managing our top level players, while developing some young talents,” stated Maurizio Gherardini, Managing Director of the SMNT.  “By giving Leo the opportunity to coach the program through the quadrennial of 2012, we wish to put him in the best possible position to complete the development of some young players while striving for the ultimate goal.”

What’s Next for Canada’s Teams:

In 2011, Canada Basketball will look to field 10 national team programs.  The cadet(te) squads will compete in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship.  Both junior national teams have successfully qualified for the FIBA U19 World Championship taking place in July.  The JMNT will compete in the 16-team tournament in Latvia, while the JWNT will compete in Chile.  On the senior level, both the SMNT and SWNT will look to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games at the FIBA Americas Championships in August and September.

2011 also marks the 26th edition of the Summer Universiade (FISU games), the largest global sporting event after the Olympic Games.  In addition, Guadalajara, Mexico will host the Pan American Games in the fall of 2011.

Please refer to the press kit for the 2011Canada Basketball Calendar of events as well as biographies of Allison McNeill, Leo Rautins, Michele O’Keefe and Renato Pasquali.

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Canada Basketball is a private, not-for-profit corporation that is committed to the growth of the sport in Canada. Just as important, Canada Basketball is focused on the development and preparation of Canada’s national teams for the Olympic; Pan American and FISU Games as well as the World Championships. The aspiration of Canada Basketball is to instill the pride, commitment, passion and respect that Canadians personify into the development of basketball across the country and internationally. For more information on Canada Basketball programs visit www.basketball.ca



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