If you were trying to track the growth of basketball in Canada, look no further than the recently announced training camp roster for the upcoming FIBA World Cup 2019 qualifiers.
Gone are the days of one ore two NBAers (if we were lucky) deigning to spend time with the national team. The roster now reads like a role call of some notable players across the league (and in the world), from eight different NBA teams, international squads, and the G League.
Headlined by NBA (and FIBA) stalwarts Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson, the squad is also welcoming a pair of Raptors 905ers in Aaron Best and Kaza Kajami-Keane, rising talent Jamal Murray, the stout Kelly Olynyk, and, hey, Anthony Bennett!
See the whole list below.
As of right now, Team Canada is 3-1 and in second place in their group, having beaten the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands, and lost to the Dominican Republic (who sit atop the group at 4-0). I won’t try to understand or explain the prolonged qualifying rules from there, but from what I understand, the top three teams of each group advance (sounds easy enough now) and then three of the top six in each of the next groups make it to the actual World Cup. So, my general rule here applies: try to win more than you lose.
As coached by Jay Triano, the living legend of international basketball, Team Canada will tip off against China on June 22 and 24 in Vancouver and Victoria. Then, as outlined on the FIBA site, Canada begins its run in earnest, playing host to the Dominican Republic in Toronto at Ricoh Coliseum on June 29.
As everyone has been mentioning since the list was released: there’s no Andrew Wiggins. Nor do Trey Lyles, Nik Stauskas, and Tyler Ennis make an appearance. It’s a bummer to consider a talent like Wiggins (say what you want about his past season) not trying to put in work for Team Canada, but such is life.