The Olympic Qualifying Tournament for team Canada and their national basketball team has been determined and it will take place in Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia.
The men’s team will be looking to qualify for the Summer Olympics for the first time since 2000.
Canadians Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Canada’s Olympic qualifying group has been determined. They will be facing fellow FIBA Americas teams Uruguay along with Czech Republic, Uruguay, Turkey, China, and Greece. They will play at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia. The games will take go from June 23th-June 29th.
Olympic Qualifying Format
The format of the tournament for Canada team has been determined. They will be in group A with Greece and China. Group B will have the Czech Republic, Turkey, and Uruguay.
The top two teams from each group will face each other in the semi-finals and finals knockout stage. The top team from Group A will face the runner-up from Group B and vice-versa.
The winners of those two semi-finals will then head to the final. The winner of that game will go to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo next July.
‘I think it’s a tough group’
The Greeks with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Czech Republic with their strong showing in the last FIBA World Cup, and Turkey with their NBA players will be the three main roadblocks for Canada.
Teams to Watch Out for in Olympic Qualifying
The three teams to watch out for specifically are Greece, Turkey, and Czech Republic. Both Greece and Czech Republic did better than Canada in the FIBA World Cup.
Greece struggled in the FIBA World Cup. This includes Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. He is the reigning NBA MVP who struggled in the FIBA World Cup. However, for Canada, it is best to assume that Antetokounmpo will play his best basketball in the Olympic qualifying tournament.
Giannis Antetokounmpo recently had 50 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists against the Utah Jazz.
The Greeks are not the only team to fear though as the Czech Republic finished sixth in the last FIBA World Cup.
However, the Czech Republic cannot be underestimated after finishing sixth in the last FIBA World Cup thanks to some strong talent in Europe.
They did marginally better than Canada in the last FIBA World Cup, finishing 20th in the last FIBA World Cup.
Turkey almost defeated the United States of America in a FIBA World Cup game this year.
Enes Kanter of the New York Knicks, Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, Cedi Osman of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Furkan Korkmaz of the Philadelphia 76ers, and finally Ömer Aşık who last played for the Chicago Bulls are all players that could play for Turkey.
The Other Teams in the Tournament
The other two teams, China and Uruguay are good teams.
China will be in Canada’s group and has been in all Summer Olympics since 1978.
China boasts a lot of good players, with a strong local league called the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). However, none of them play in the NBA which will put them as a huge underdog to teams like Canada, Greece, and the Czech Republic.
Uruguay is the weakest of the six teams. They are the only one of the six not to make it to the FIBA World Cup this year. They are also are ranked 31st in the world, which is the lowest rank of the group.
However, Canada should be able to defeat both teams. In fact, there has been commitment by many Canadian NBA players to play in the FIBA World Cup.
Players Committed to the Tournament
There have been eight NBA players who have declared their intention to play for the red and white next June including Jamal Murray:
“Playing for my country is always an honour and I want to take the step and leadership role to commit to @canadabasketball this summer. I want to play my part to help push our team into the Olympics and compete at the highest world stage. Let’s go Canada.”
Jamal Murray is the headline of players who committed to playing for the Canadian men’s national basketball team. Other players have also committed to the national team like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Nickeil Alexander-Walker of the New Orleans Pelicans, and Oshae Brissett of the Toronto Raptors.
RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks Dwight Powell, Orlando Magic player Khem Birch, and two Raptors players Chris Boucher and Oshae Brissett have all publicly admitted to wanting to play for Team Canada come next June. According to the Sportsnet Staff at Sportsnet, there will be another player in the tournament. Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies will be with the Canadian men’s national basketball team next June.
This has put the number of Canadian NBA players committed to the Olympic qualifying tournament to eight. This is very likely going to go up to ten as loyal Canadian national team players Cory Joseph of the Sacramento Kings, and Kelly Olynyk of the Miami Heat are likely to play for the team.
Furthermore, it is only November so more Canadian NBA players are likely to suit up the red and white late June in Victoria. Other notable Canadian NBA players who could join the team include: Minnesota Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins, Cleveland Cavaliers Tristan Thompson, and Denver Nuggets Trey Lyles.
The loss to Venezuela in the 2015 AmeriCup should be a big reminder to the Canadian national team. Anyone can beat a heavily favored team and that shows the unpredictability of international basketball.
Furthermore, the FIBA game is different than an NBA game. Players will be expected to adjust to performing on the big stage in Victoria. This is especially true for Canadian players that could be in the NBA Finals. The latest the NBA Finals could end is Sunday, June 21st.
Players may have as little as two days rest between the NBA Finals and the Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria.
However, there will be a lot of pride for the Canadian men’s national players as they play home in Victoria instead of traveling halfway across the world for the FIBA World Cup in China this year.
As Glen Grunwald said in a Canadian Press Article:
“Being able to host a FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament at home is a great opportunity for our team on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” Canada Basketball CEO Glen Grunwald said in a statement.”
Glen Grunwald also talks about what this could mean for Victoria and the country of Canada.
“This is sure to be a week-long celebration that fans of basketball in Greater Victoria, and across our great country, won’t ever forget.”
There will be huge pressure for Nick Nurse and Canada to qualify for the Summer Olympics.
On paper, Canada has by far the best roster of the six teams in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria.
However, Canada has failed at the final hurdle two times before against Venezuela and France. So they should be prepared for the other countries’ best teams.
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