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Canada World Cup Coach: Knicks' Barrett 'Makes My Life Easy!'

Team Canada head coach Jordi Fernandez sang the praises of New York Knicks star RJ Barrett after he came through in the clutch in a pair of exhibition upsets en route to the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Jordi Fernandez believes that RJ Barrett has been anything but a hoser for Canada's FIBA Basketball World Cup effort. 

Team Canada has called in the professionals as it seeks championship hardware on the men's international basketball circuit: Barrett, set to enter his fifth season with the New York Knicks, is one of several prominent NBA names on the Canadian roster for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup in Asia. Though it was announced Jamal Murray (Denver) will not compete, Barrett will be joined by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City), Dillon Brooks (Houston), and Kelly Olynyk (Utah). 

But on a group stacked with established, accomplished talents, Barrett is making a name for himself.

"So far, he’s made my life so easy,” Fernández, also the associate head coach of the Sacramento Kings, said of Barrett to Holly MacKenzie of Team Canada's official site. “I don't have to call much for him. Here and there I do give him a play, but he just finds everything within the offense and that’s extremely valuable. I’m very happy with RJ and his performance so far.”

The New Yorker and Toronto native has come up big in Canada's preparatory exhibitions leading into the World Cup: Barrett created a tall task for himself on Sunday, as it'd be hard to top a dominating 13-of-14 effort from the field in an overtime win over Germany. He came close, and might've even surpassed it in the eyes of some, when the Canadians faced Spain on Thursday.

In another overtime triumph, this one against the defending World Cup champions, Barrett hit three shots in the extra period en route to an 18-point performance and an 85-80 advantage. One of those tallies was a thunderous dunk that more or less sealed the deal, as he not only secured a momentum-racking victory but also Team Canada's men's Player of the Week honor.

“They’re a really well-coached team," Barrett said of Spain. They played extremely hard. It was a good test for us. Another great team win. They’re No. 1 in the world for a reason. It felt good to come in here and get a win.”

Both victories were de facto road games for the Canadians: the win over Germany was staged in Hamburg as the final of a four-team prep tournament while the win over Spain took place in Granada. After one more exhibition, which will be staged on Friday against the Dominican Republic, the Canadians will head to Jakarta to partake in Group H of World Cup play alongside France, Latvia, and Lebanon.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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