Born in Nanaimo in 1960 to Polish immigrants, Gerald Kazanowski began playing basketball when he was in Grade 6 at Harwood elementary. He focused more on basketball in middle school at John Barsby, then went on to Nanaimo District Senior Secondary (NDSS). Gerald had talent and he was named the Most Valuable Player in the 1978 BC High School Provincial Basketball Tournament - although he admits his brothers were better than him in high school. NDSS won the BCs and were ranked Number One in Canada, losing only once all year to an Australian all-star team.
Gerald was recruited to play university basketball for the UVic Vikes, where he was a member of four consecutive CIAU championship teams, 1980 through 1983; his first year at UVic they placed second. He was named a three-time CIAU All-Canadian and was a two-time recipient of the Premier's Athletic Award. He graduated with a degree in economics and was drafted in the seventh round of the 1983 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz (his name was listed as Joe Kazanowski).
A 6-foot, 9-inch center/forward, Gerald first played for Canada’s national team at the 1979 Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) World Junior Championships. He played in three World University Games, 1981, '83, and '85. He started on the Canadian team that won Gold at the 1983 World University Games in Edmonton, defeating the United States - led by Karl Malone and Charles Barkley - in the semi-finals and Yugoslavia in the final. He participated in three FIBA World Championships, 1982, 1986, and 1990. He also played against the original “Dream Team” at the 1992 FIBA Tournament of the Americas. Gerald played in two Olympic Games. In Los Angeles in 1984, Canada finished just outside the medals in fourth place, and was sixth in 1988 in Seoul.
Gerald went on to play professionally from 1984 through 1992 with stops for clubs in Spain (Joventut in Badelona and Baloncesto LeÃn), Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Argentina and Mexico. He says that he was fortunate with great coaches all along the way, from Sherry to Wright to Arnold to Levering to Shields to Donahue and many overseas.
He was inducted into the Naismith Museum and Hall of Fame in 2005 and Basketball BC Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2008, he was inducted into the Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame and his UVic Vikes jersey, #24, was retired in 2011.
Gerald retired from professional basketball in 1992 and by 1993 he was immersed in the financial advisory business. He has his office in Sidney and lives in North Saanich with his wife of 20 years, Claudia, and their two daughters, Sarah and Grace. He enjoys spending his free time volunteering at schools, giving talks on how sports and goal setting can positively affect kids’ lives. “I love Vancouver Island and this area, and I feel blessed to live here. Many good things go on here and there’s a real sense of community,” he says.
SPONSORED BY UVIC VIKES
On August 24, 1960 in Sudbury, Ontario the world welcomed the arrival of Ilario Enrico Pasquale, better known as Eli in the basketball community. His first introduction to the sport was in Grade 8 at St. Francis School in the predominantly Italian neighborhood of Gatchell. By Grade 10 Eli had grown to 5' 3" and had developed an abiding passion and exceptional skills for the game at which he would come to excel.
By the time Eli arrived at the University of Victoria he was 6'1" and under the tutelage of coach, Ken Shields, he starred as the point guard for five years. The university team won five straight CIAU championships and Eli stood out as the all-time leading scorer. He was named to the CIAU all-star team three times.
Eli was a prominent member of the 1983 World University Games team that won the gold medal. They defeated the US team led by Charles Barkley and Karl Malone in the semi-finals, and then went on to win the final against Yugoslavia led by Drazen Petrovic.
Eli played for the Canadian Junior National team and went to Brazil for the World Junior Championships where the team won the gold medal. He was a member of the Canadian Men's National team at various levels over 15 years. He led them to a fourth place finish at both the 1984 Summer Olympics and 1982 FIBA World Championships. At age 37, after a five-year absence, he returned to the national team to play in the 1997 Tournament of the Americas to help the Canadians qualify for the 1998 FIBA World Championship.
Eli was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics 106th overall in the 5th round of the 1984 NBA draft, but only played in three exhibition games before being released. Later, he played in the Amateur Athletic Union for Seattle and the Los Angeles summer pro league. His professional career included playing for teams in Argentina in 1986, West Germany in 1989 and Switzerland in 1990.
In 1986 Eli set up the Eli Pasquale Group Inc. that was designed to work with all the recreational centres and School Districts in Greater Victoria. He started the Eli Pasquale Champion Academy and organized basketball programs and clinics for grades 6 and up. In the years since, he has helped thousands of youngsters in the sport of basketball.
In recognition of his superlative career, he has been inducted into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame (2003), the B.C. Basketball Hall of Fame (2004), the University of Victoria Sports Hall of Fame (2005) and the Sudbury Ontario Sports Hall of Fame (2008).
Sponsored by UVic VIKES