Nats need Magloire

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

National team head coach Leo Rautins did not get much time to talk with New Orleans Hornets forward Jamaal Magloire about the Toronto native's future with the Canadian team last night.

But both sides are talking, and that's a good sign.

Rautins said he has been talking with Magloire, a former Eastern Commerce star, off and on for the past few months and said yesterday that there is still a chance Magloire will play for Canada, either at the world championship qualifying tournament this August or the world championships next year.

Magloire has been reluctant in the past, for a variety of reasons, to play for the national team, but Rautins hopes to change that.

"The better the team is that surrounds the NBA guys ... the more chance you have of them participating," Rautins said, prior to doing commentary for last night's Raptors-Hornets game in New Orleans on TSN. "The best way to get a guy like Steve (Nash) or Jamaal is if you can say, 'look who you're playing with. It's pretty good.' "

For his part, Magloire said that he was happy to see Rautins get the job.

"I don't know how he is as a coach, but he's a great guy," Magloire said last night. "He's someone that I have confided in for years."

Magloire added that there will be lots of time for he and Rautins to talk about the team this spring as the Hornets are out of the playoff picture.

Nash, an MVP candidate with the Phoenix Suns, has led the Canadian team for years but has suggested that, at 31, his days of competing for the Nats may be coming to an end.

In any event, Rautins believes that the national team can still surprise people and qualify for the 2006 worlds with or without the Canadian NBA stars, although preferably with.

"I think our talent has been understated," Rautins said. "You can't turn on an NCAA game without Canadian kids being on TV. They're playing all over Europe and everywhere else."


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