It turns out Phil Martelli will be adding a gold medal winner to his St. Joseph’s team this fall.
Anthony Longpre, a 6-foot-9 incoming freshman forward, played for the Canadian under-19 team that won the FIBA World Cup in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday.
His trip began when the teams showed up at their hotel a couple of days before the World Cup started and learned that, for safety, the players were not allowed to leave unsupervised. A bus took them to the gym every day, led and followed by a police escort.
Longpre, a native of L’Assomption, Quebec, said he was worried at first, given the security level. But he and his teammates adjusted. They spent their down time hanging around the hotel or swimming in the pool. After less than two weeks, they were standing on the court looking at each other and waiting to embrace.
They knocked out the United States, 99-87, on Saturday in the semifinals and routed Italy in the gold medal game, 79-60.
“At the end, we were just waiting for the clock to run out,” said Longpre, who was in the game at the final buzzer. “We were holding the ball, and that was just an incredible feeling.”
After they won their country’s first-ever gold medal in a FIBA international event, the Canadians returned home to a crowd of about 200 fans at the airport.
Longpre began the tournament in Canada’s starting lineup, playing 19 minutes with four points and eight rebounds in the opener against Mali. But he twisted the ankle he sprained in the spring and told his coach the pain was bothering him. Longpre played just 22 minutes in the last six games but was on the floor as the gold medal game ended.
During the tournament he befriended his Canadian teammates and visited the pyramids with them, their only outing outside of the gym. The players met less than a month earlier in Toronto but jelled enough to win the title.
“I think that’s why we beat the U.S.,” Longpre said. “We were sharing the ball and weren’t selfish. We were trusting each other.”
Longpre said he thinks that experience will help him as he adjusts to St. Joe’s — “ because with Team Canada, we got together and then three weeks later we had to play against the world.”
Longpre arrived on campus Tuesday and watched the Hawks’ workout Wednesday. He said he thinks his ankle will be healed after another week or two of rest and rehab.
In the meantime, the overseas trip was well worth it, Longpre said: “It was the best opportunity ever.”