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BYU hoopsters Jonathan Tavernari and Charles Abouo are approaching crunch time relative to qualifying for their final 12-man national team rosters that will compete in World Championship qualifying tournaments this summer.


Tavernari will be one of 24 players (up from the 22 previously announced) who will compete for the 12 openings on Brazil's "A" team that is preparing for the Tournament of the Americas, in late August.

The national team invitees will meet for the first time as a team Sunday night in Sao Paulo, with physicals and the first team practices scheduled for Monday. After a week of workouts, Brazil will open play in the "Torneio Super Four," in Rosario, Argentina, on August 1st. Australia and Uruguay will join Brazil and the host country in the four-day friendly competition. The following week, a two-day tourney will be contested in Rio de Janeiro, featuring the same four teams.

Brazil will take its team to Puerto Rico for a final tune-up tourney on August 18-20, with Canada, Argentina and the host Puerto Ricans completing the lineup. Then, on August 26th (v. Dominican Republic), Brazil will open the Tournament of the Americas in San Juan, from which the top four teams will qualify for next year's World Championships in Turkey. As defending Olympic champ (and automatic qualifier for Turkey), the U.S. will not compete in Puerto Rico.

Since the initial 22-man roster was announced, Brazil has dropped BYU-Hawaii's Lucas Cipolini Alves (knee surgery), and added three more players, creating a 24-man group, and leaving JT as the only non-professional, U.S. collegian on the team.

As stated previously, his seven-game performance with the "B" team in Portugal has primed Tavernari for the next few weeks, and it will likely come down to the numbers game, and this question: how many shooting guards will Brazil keep on its 12-man roster? Of the three players just added to the roster, two are shooting guards, making a total of six. Leandro Barbosa (Phoenix Suns) is the clear-cut starter, but after him, it will be a pitched battle for the backup spots, and JT is now firmly in that mix--despite his lack of experience with the "A" team.

As Brazil goes through these tune-up tournaments, roster cuts will be made, and I'll be updating you on JT's journey as the summer progresses.


Charles Abouo, meantime, is with the Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) national team, training in Spain for the upcoming "Afrobasket" Tournament (August 5-15 in Libya)--Africa's version of the Tournament of the Americas, with the top three teams qualifying for next summer's World Championships.

While Brazil would be considered an odds-on favorite to finish top four and qualify for Turkey (Brazil and the U.S. are the only two countries to play in every World Championship), Cote d'Ivoire will be an underdog to emerge as one of Africa's top three teams.

Consider that in the most recent FIBA world rankings, Cote d'Ivoire is ranked below nine of the 15 teams it will compete with in Libya.

#51 Cote d'Ivoire trails Angola (12), Nigeria (21), Egypt (34), Senegal (37), Tunisia (44), Central African Republic (45), Mali (48), Morocco (49) and Cameroon (50). Other countries competing (and ranked below Cote d'Ivoire) are Mozambique (55), Cape Verde (56), South Africa (56), Rwanda (71), Congo (73), and Libya (host--not ranked).

Cote d'Ivoire opens with Nigeria on August 5th, and has remaining group games with Libya (6th) and South Africa (7th). The top three in each group advance to the next cross-over round.

Abouo is one of 17 players currently training with the national team in Spain, and the roster will be cut to 12 players in the next week. From everything I'm hearing, Abouo is having a great summer, and may end up being s pleasant surprise for BYU this upcoming season, let alone a contributor for his national team.

Cote d'Ivoire's basketball website is not exactly current, but I'll update you as best I can before the African qualifying tournament gets underway. Once FIBA takes over in Libya, updates wil be plentiful.


This week's Ben Cahoon Update:

Cahoon had 6 catches for 82 yards in Montreal's 21-8 win over Hamilton on Thursday night. The CFL's Alouettes are now a league-leading 4-0, and Cahoon stands second in the CFL in both catches (23) and yards (293).

By the way, if you want to see just the latest Ben Cahoon circus catch, check out this link from last week's game at Saskatchewan. Enjoy the French commentary, and see former Cougar Omarr Morgan (#1 in green/white), who ends up with a great view to a spectacular grab. You can't fully appreciate the catch until you stick around for the slow-motion, end zone camera angle. Dude is a freak--period, end of story, and he does stuff like this all the time.

I feel comfortable saying Austin Collie is the best receiver in BYU football history, but Ben Cahoon is the best catcher of the ball that BYU has ever produced.

Couple of notes about the clip: the Als are in throwback unis, and the Montreal QB is former Utah State Aggie Anthony Calvillo. He and Cahoon are the Steve Young-to-Jerry Rice of the CFL.


Good News: Monday starts our two-week "Camp Cougar Trivia Countdown," with the first of ten daily questions dealing with BYU's 1984 National Championship team.

Bad News: Monday will also feature some stats about BYU's recent record against ranked non-conference opponents--and they're not pretty.


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