It has been 15 years since Canada Men’s basketball competed at the Olympics. For some die-hard basketball fans in Canada, the 15 years wait almost feels like 150. Since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Canada has failed to take the next step in becoming a competitive country on the world’s stage.
This time around, it appears to be different. With the 2016 Summer Olympics just around the corner, Canada has assembled their most talented roster for Olympic Qualifying that began today at the FIBA Americas hosted in Mexico.
Not only is the roster stacked with young NBA talent and good college players from a few years ago, it is also one of deepest teams Canada has ever assembled. The deep roster will surely pay dividends before the tournament is over. In fact, Canada will potentially be playing eight games in ten days.
Below there is a breakdown of Canada’s final roster:
C Robert Sacre (Los Angeles Lakers)
C Kelly Olynyk (Boston Celtics)
F Anthony Bennett (Minnesota Timberwolves)
PF Aaron Doornekamp (Skyliners Frankfurt in Germany)
PF Andrew Nicholson (Orlando Magic)
PF Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks)
SF Melvin Ejim (Orlando Magic)
SF Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves)
SG Brady Heslip (Pallacanestro Cantu in Italy)
SG Nik Stauskas (Philadelphia 76ers)
PG Cory Joseph (Toronto Raptors)
PG Philip Scrubb (Greece)
An interesting notion is that a total of eight players could have played together at the same college if they all wanted to. A bit unrealistic but think about the pipeline a college coach could create if he only recruited Canadians.
It wasn’t a long time ago that it was unfathomable to vision Canada having to cut star college players or NBA players. In 2009, Canada had players such as Carl English, Levon Kendall, Andy Rautins, and Joel Anthony who all got either cut in tryouts or didn’t even earn an invite.
The big key for Canada is for the stars to perform well and jell together in a short amount of time. With the high number of forwards on the roster, one thing that must be done quickly is to build chemistry amongst the guard play. Brady Heslip and Nik Stauskas are lethal sharp-shooters around the perimeter. Hopefully, by the ability to knock down the long-range shot, that this will open things up for forwards Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to shine.
FIBA rules directly states that there are ten teams that are eligible to participate. Two Olympic berths are awarded for this tournament because the United States already qualified for the Olympics in the result of winning last year’s World Cup. In addition, Brazil, despite participating in the tournament, has also already qualified.
The 10 teams are divided into two groups of five, with the top four teams advancing to another round-robin schedule. From there, the top four teams will reach the semi finals with the winners qualifying for the Olympics. There will be a back door tournament for teams who finished 3rd-5th next year before the Olympics start.
Below is the group that Canada was placed in and the current standings. For those of you that are wondering, yes the standings are right and teams do get one point for a loss.
|1||Venezuela||1||1||0||73||52||+21||2||Advance to second round|