Student vs Mentor: Joseph, Parker relish matchup in OQT Final

Naveen Ganglani
Student vs Mentor: Joseph, Parker relish matchup in OQT Final
Both play well in the finals, but Parker and France get the last laugh

MANILA, Philippines – Not many point guards entering the NBA are as lucky as Cory Joseph was during his rookie season.

The Toronto, Canada, native was taken 29th overall out of Texas by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2011 NBA Draft and for the first 4 years of his career, played a back-up role to future NBA Hall of Famer Tony Parker. 

Joseph never averaged more than 18 minutes a game as a Spur, but the lessons he learned and experience he gained while going up against a 4-time NBA champion every day in practice proved beneficial for his career. 

After signing a 4-year, $30 million contract with the Toronto Raptors in the 2015 NBA offseason, Joseph enjoyed a bigger role and averaged career-highs of 8.5 points, 3.1 assists, and 25.6 minutes a game last season. 

In the summer of 2016, Joseph finally went toe-to-toe with his former mentor – not as his back-up in practice, but as adversaries with equal playing time on the court, and the names of their countries across their chests, fighting for a ticket to the Olympics.

“He’s one of my mentors. I learned a lot from him. I was very excited for the game, preparing for it,” the 24-year-old Joseph said after France and Canada’s final for the FIBA Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Sunday, July 10, at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“Having to sit on the bench and watch him for a long time, that got me excited to be out there on the court playing against him,” he added.

Joseph more than held his own by finishing with 20 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. Unfortunately for Canada, France proved too good, and Parker was a huge reason why by registering 26 points – 15 in the fourth quarter alone – 4 assists, and 4 boards.

Canada fell behind by 10 early in the third period and put up a commendable fight in the final period led by Joseph, although Parker, who also had 3 3-pointers, provided the finishing touches in crunch time for the French.

It was great to play against him,” Parker said about Joseph after France’s celebration on mid-court. “He was my back-up for a lot of years and he’s a very good friend and he’s playing great for Canada. He had a great tournament, but only one team can go so I’m happy it’s us.”

Parker is getting closer to retirement with each passing year – this is his last summer playing international basketball – and history tells us Joseph will overtake him as the Canadian enters his prime. 

But at least for this one Sunday evening in front of the Manila crowd, the mentor still ended up getting the upper hand on his protege. 

“Trying to get a little bit of revenge and trying to use the things that he taught me against him,” Joseph touched on the duel post-game. Both players were part of the Spurs’ NBA title-winning roster in 2014.

“I knew he was going to know my tendencies out there on the court, just like I would know his, so I just tried to play hard.”

The Raptors fell short to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals and Canada fell short to France in the Manila OQT Finals, but overall, Joseph has been pleased with the year he’s had representing his home country both in the NBA and in the international scene.

“It’s been a great year. Obviously playing at home is huge for me, but whenever I get the chance to play for Canada – I keep Canada close to my heart – so whenever I get the chance, I take it as I’m being honored to play for them, and I try to go out there, leave it all out on the court,” he said.

For Parker, he has one more stop in Rio before calling it an international career. Following Sunday’s final, a draw was held to determine which group France would be put in for the Olympics, and the result had the national team together with the USA, Venezuela, Serbia, China, and Australia.

It’s going to be tough,” Parker said about the upcoming trip to Rio. “Obviously you have some great teams – the US, Spain, Serbia – but we have a great team too, so we just have to keep working, keep improving, and hopefully we can try to get a medal.” –

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