Discovering basketball from Canada. I have a Czech passport and Czech blood, reports the new face of the rep

Karnik was still in awe, but zeal for the cause was certainly not lacking in the possible new lion. “I immediately announced on the phone that I have a Czech passport and Czech blood. I was happy and immediately called my grandfather and grandmother. Maybe they will try to come here and visit me, and I myself can’t wait to go to the Czech Republic,” stressed the 206-year-old basketball player, who finished his career at first-division Boston College this year with an average of 10 points and 5.4 rebounds.

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Karnik’s goal now is to get into the national team. “Having the opportunity to train with all the boys here is a big thing. My family is very proud – my father and grandparents, who all come from Czechoslovakia, are happy that I will have the opportunity to represent our family and I hope to have a future in the Czech national team,” explained Karnik, whose mother. is Canadian. Karnik’s family has an interesting past. His paternal grandfather had a textile factory in eastern Bohemia in the 1960s, but due to political pressure, he decided to emigrate to Canada in 1967 with his wife and then six-year-old son, who later became James’ father.

Sports family

By the way, grandfather started a great family tradition in the world of sports when he represented Czechoslovakia in cycling. His son then went on to Canada, where he reached the highest level in judo. He would have gone to the Olympics, but this dream was ruined by an injury.

“Then James was born, and since it wasn’t a sport for the family, dad stopped judo. But James inherited some judo genes, and as he himself noted, it was an interesting additional sport for him in terms of landing correctly and maybe even making screens. The family’s sporting roots are extensive, and when they learned that James could also represent the Czech Republic, they were all excited and rightly proud. The whole family really returns to the Czech Republic every generation,” commented Czech national team manager Michal Šob.

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He led the scouting team that had been searching for Blake Schilb’s successor as a naturalized alien for a long time. “However, it is very difficult to get citizenship in the Czech Republic, there must be at least some traces of Czech, which is really clear for Blake thanks to his wife. We have gone through many dead ends, after contacting some players it came out that the seemingly Czech trace is very distant or absent, despite the Czech-like surname. But as happens in life, as soon as we stop looking, we find. Of course, we did not discover James, but a sports journalist who actively also looking for us,” explained the manager of the Czech Lions.

According to him, from the first contact, it was obvious that Karnik was going to be here. “He’s really excited. And on top of that, the next day, our former national team assistant, Mike Taylor, signed him to his Fraser Valley team from the Canadian Summer League, which was a complete coincidence. So we immediately had someone who could assess James’ qualities,” Šob proudly said.

FIBA registration

Although Karnik has spent time with Canada’s youth selections, he has not played an official match for any national team, according to his words. “Today his registration with the FIBA​​​​international federation is underway, and at the same time we are trying to ensure that he does not have the status of a naturalized foreigner and thus will not fill a single place for such a player,” Šob added to the situation, seeing Karnik as a very physical and athletically fit player who is a prototype for European basketball at a higher level, with potential for representation.

The original plan was that Karnik could join the team in the first camp in Mariánské Lázně last week. “So that we can get to know each other as soon as possible and improve it. But then his team started doing well in the Canadian Summer League and he only made it when they were eliminated from the competition. He is 24 years old and can play at the highest level for another ten years. The question now is whether he can play official games this summer, but anything is possible and there is no hindrance from FIBA. It is possible that he will start this weekend in the tournament in Pardubice and a bigger role may come in the November window of the world qualification, especially in the absence of some under-basketball players,” said Šob.

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At the same time, it is rather unfortunate that Karnik has already signed a one-year contract in Geneva at the time of his first contact with the national team. “We still tried to tie him to the Czech league, but it didn’t work out because of the high ransom that our clubs in the game had to pay. However, the contract is only for one year, and even the Swiss league is in the lower level than in the Czech, James’ role will be dominant and he will be able to develop there. Then he can continue either here or elsewhere in Europe, where his Czech passport will be a big advantage.”

The Canadian with a Czech passport could appear for the first time in the Czech jersey this weekend in Pardubice CZ BASKETBALL CUP matches against Bulgaria or Croatia.

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