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UNM’s Weir has a golden experience in Egypt

Paul Weir doesn’t yet have furniture in his office as University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach.

But he’s got the decorating down, adding Sunday a gold medal he can proudly display on the wall.

Weir, the first-year Lobos coach and Toronto native, was an assistant coach on Team Canada’s junior national basketball team. Canada on Sunday beat Italy 79-60 in Cairo for the gold medal in the FIBA U19 World Cup championship game, one day after the program’s first victory over Team USA in the semifinals.

“The experience went well beyond my expectations,” Weir told the Journal on Sunday night. “To coach and compete against some of the greatest players and coaches in the world was an incredible opportunity. To go beyond that and be on a team that won the first gold medal in Canadian history is special.”

Sunday, Canada got 18 points and 12 rebounds from small forward R.J. Barrett in the win over Italy. Barrett is from Mississauga, Ontario, but attends high school in Florida and is one of the top recruits in the Class of 2019

In Saturday’s historic win over Team USA, which is coached by Kentucky coach John Calipari, Barrett had 38 points and 13 rebounds.

After the win over the Unites States, Peter Yannopoulos, a former coach who is now a college basketball and NBA television analyst, tweeted of Weir: “There is no coincidence that in @paul_weir1  1st year with (Canada) basketball coaching staff, we get one of our biggest win’s in program history.”

The day prior, after a quarterfinal win over France, Yannopoulos was more specific with Weir’s contribution, tweeting to a Journal reporter: “Paul’s defensive strategies were key to victory for short handed Canada today vs France.”

This was Weir’s first experience with the national team and took the position after being offered a spot on the coaching staff this spring by junior national team head coach Roy Rana.

Weir, who is expected to return to Albuquerque on Tuesday, said he would be open to future work with the national team, though is now ready to get back home and continue the work he’s been doing building toward his first season as head coach of the Lobos. His experience in Egypt, Weir said, should be a great asset.

“I am extremely fortunate to be able to garner both the tangible and intangible experiences from this to hopefully make me a more equipped leader of the Lobos,” Weir said.

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