PrintPrint

Spurs' Bonner applies for Canadian citizenship

The Canadian Press

2/11/2009 7:26:37 PM

TORONTO - Matt Bonner could be Canada's next sharpshooter.

The San Antonio Spurs forward, who played two seasons for Toronto, is in the process of applying for Canadian citizenship and he reiterated his hopes Wednesday to play for Canada's men's basketball team.

"It's something I wanted to do, something I felt strongly about. I feel very strongly about representing Canada and trying to help the team in any way possible to be successful on the world stage," the three-point specialist said.

Bonner, who was in Toronto for the Spurs' game against the Raptors, has a grandfather from Newfoundland and his wife is from Toronto.

"I feel like I'm part-Canadian, having a Canadian grandfather and growing up a couple of hours south of the border (Concord, N.H.) and then having such a great time playing here for the Raptors - it just feels right," Bonner said.

The Canadian men's team faces its next big test this summer at the world championship qualifying tournament in Mexico. Canada finished 13th at the 2002 world championships in Indianapolis and didn't qualify for the 2006 world tournament.

"We want to try to put together the best team we can possibly put together," said Maurizio Gherardini, managing director of Canada's senior men's program, and also assistant GM of the Raptors. "We know we're going to be facing a very tough challenge going into that tournament, but we want to fight, and to fight we need some quality additions, and an NBA player would definitely be a quality addition."

Under FIBA rules, however, a team can only have one naturalized player. Philadelphia 76ers centre Samuel Dalembert, who is Haitian-born, received his citizenship in time to play for Canada in its unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Canadians could certainly use a long-range shooter of Bonner's calibre. The 28-year-old currently leads the NBA in three-point percentage, shooting 50 per cent from beyond the arc. He was averaging 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds a game heading into Wednesday night, but arrived on the heels of two big games, totalling 45 points against New Jersey and Boston.

The Raptors traded the 6-10 player to San Antonio for Rasho Nesterovic in the summer of 2006.