After months of speculation, Canada’s men’s basketball roster gears up ahead of qualifying


With an incredibly deep talent pool, Canada’s men’s basketball roster has been the subject of speculation for over a year. Fans and the media have wondered who is in and who is out. They noted their personal choices impatiently.

With an incredibly deep talent pool, Canada’s men’s basketball roster has been the subject of speculation for over a year. Fans and the media have wondered who is in and who is out. They noted their personal choices impatiently.

Finally, the list is set and the storyline has shifted to the ultimate task at hand: securing a place in Tokyo.

“I think our No. 1 goal right now is who we have and what do we need to do to win,” team general manager Rowan Barrett said Monday from camp in Tampa, Fla.

The Canadians are set to win the six-team last-ditch Olympic qualifying tournament, which kicks off June 29 in Victoria.

What was billed as Canada’s most talented basketball team in history has key names missing, either for serious injuries, pending personal or personal reasons.

But there were also welcome additions. Former Draft First Pick Andrew Wiggins is back with the Canadian team for the first time since 2015. Wiggins, veteran guard Cory Joseph and young star RJ Barrett are headliners for all eight NBA players on the list of 19 players from the training camp unveiled Monday.

“For me, the # 1 thing is just the experience,” Rowan Barrett said of Wiggins. “He’s seen more. He’s ready for more. Back then he was just young, talented, gifted and went out and played. Now, after several years, he’s seen a lot that would set him up for more. . “

Nickeil Alexander-Walker (New Orleans), Luguentz Dort (Oklahoma City), Trey Lyles (San Antonio), Mychal Mulder (Golden State) and Dwight Powell (Dallas) are the other NBA players on a team made up of talented NCAA and Players based in Europe.

Head coach Nick Nurse said quickly developing chemistry will be key to bringing the Canadians to the Olympics for the first time since 2000. Communication has been a big deal, he said, in training. .

“We have to be who we are, we have to forge our own identity and be who we are and to the best of our ability to be really comfortable with our own identity – that’s one thing,” Nurse said.

“I hope it’s worrying for (the naysayers) or unsettling for them where we can make it a little problem and then we do our best to try and talk more about the NBA style to FIBA, just the rules in general. Probably half of our team does not follow FIBA ​​rules during the year, so that’s a constant every day in training. “

Alexander-Walker has not set foot on FIBA ​​ground since leading Canada to a silver medal at the U18 FIBA ​​Americas tournament in 2016, where he topped the tournament with 17.4 points per game. He relishes the chance to wear the colors of Canada again.

“Honestly, it’s been a lot of fun,” the 22-year-old said of the camp. “I think there are a lot of great personalities within the group of guys and that fits in well. I think we talk a lot, which helps. We build a chemistry with each other and find some ground for it. get along with the way we play and come together

“It has been a lot of fun for me personally, I appreciate it and take this opportunity as much as possible.”

Alexander-Walker, who averaged 11 points in 46 games for New Orleans last season, enjoys working with Nurse.

“He’s a great coach. Honestly, from start to finish. A great guy too. I appreciate the way he approaches the game,” he said. “It is very clear that his style of play suits me perfectly. And I am working hard to try to improve myself and this opportunity to play for my country is not to be taken lightly, so I try to make the best of it. party of this. “

Canada will start the Group A game on June 29 against Greece, who will be missed by Giannis Antetokounmpo. Canadian fans applauded the Milwaukee Bucks’ recent victory in Game 7 against Brooklyn as it keeps the Greek star busy in the NBA playoffs. The Bucks face Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Finals, which conflicts with the qualifying game.

The Canadians face China on June 30. Group B includes Uruguay, Czech Republic and Turkey. The top two teams from each group meet in the semi-finals.

Tracing opponents in the midst of the pandemic has not been easy.

“In-person screening has been on hold here for a few years anyway, hasn’t it? So we’ve all gotten used to this world,” Nurse said. “All the teams in our group are playing, and we’ve watched the majority of them already. Greece has played three times, so at least we’ve got this movie to shoot and we’ll go from there, and. a lot of contact and behind-the-scenes work, connections and things that you tie together to get as much information as you can. “

Jamal Murray is Canada’s biggest loss since the roster craze started over a year ago. The Nuggets goaltender, who said in November 2019 he plans to play for Canada in qualifying, ruptured his Achilles tendon in March.

Dillon Brooks (Memphis), Oshae Brissett (Indiana), Khem Birch (Toronto) and Kelly Olynyk (Houston) are the absent NBA players who were on the initial Canada Basketball invitation list.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 21, 2021.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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