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Lakers hoops coach Cheng representing Canada

There seems to be a few different types of people in the world when it comes to work; the people who can put in a full day, head home and relax until the next day and do it all over again. There’s also the people who put in a full day, then keep working, then take on another challenge and because of their passion for it, it becomes a great experience for all involved.

Every single coach at Nipissing University has that passion – the typical nine-to-five day just doesn’t cut it and for one coach, Lakers Men’s Basketball bench boss Chris Cheng, he is using his passion to help Basketball Canada achieve their goals.

Cheng is currently with the U16 men’s national team as they begin training camp at Humber College before traveling to Bahia Blanca, Argentina, to compete in the FIBA America’s World Championship qualifiers June 10-14.  Canada begins competition Wednesday, June 10 against Venezuela.

“Anytime you get to represent the red and white is an honour and privilege. I am thankful that Canada Basketball has continued to have me involved with their National Program,” said Cheng.

The U16 team will compete in the FIBA Americas competition, which serves as a qualifier for the 2016 FIBA World Championships.

This year, 13 of the 14 selected athletes were under Cheng’s training for the past three years while he held the position of Manager of Player‎ Youth Development, training under the Jr. Academy and Targeted Athlete Strategy (TAS) Program.

“The vision was to start a Jr. Academy program three years ago and get started with the crop of kids we selected. The purpose was to give them early training in preparation for the 2015 Cadet Program which is why we, as a national program, are here today with these selected athletes,” Cheng said. “This is the first time in Canada Basketball history that a program was put together in preparation for the first-entry of our National Team Program which I had a pleasure to start and lead.”

Practices officially kicked off June 2, running until the team departs for South America.

Cheng said not only is it an honour to represent his country, it’s also a great learning tool to bring back to the Lakers, where he will begin his second season behind the bench.

“There’s so much to take away from a national program and being able to surround yourself with the top people in the game can go a long way in bettering practices, game-plans and the program as a while,” said Cheng.  “Anytime I am with our National Team, I get new ideas. Not only do I learn within our program but I also take away great nuggets from other countries. The basketball at this level is so high. It is fun to be around and learn. I can’t wait to bring back what I learned with our Nipissing Lakers Program.”

The excitement had been built way before training camp started and now it’s time to put in the work.

Cheng said he’s enjoying every second of the work, the passion and the dedication the players and staff have, but they are all focussed on the task at hand – readying themselves for the event in Argentina.

The goal isn’t just to show up and play, it’s to make a name for the country and for the players to turn some heads, a goal Cheng shares.

“When you get to this level and you are representing your country, you have to give it your all, you have to play hard, and you have to play hard together. Every country is going to give it their all for 40 minutes; we just have to make sure within those 40 minutes, our effort, our toughness, and our compete level is better than our opponents.”

Opportunities like this, especially for the head coach of a new program, are always a great resource and not something everyone gets.

Cheng knows this and is definitely taking advantage of soaking up as much as he can before getting back to preparing his program for their second year in the OUA/CIS.

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