The Canadian Senior Men’s Basketball team made a quick stop on home soil for a World Cup Qualifying game on July 1st. In the first of two games played over the weekend, the team faced the Dominican Republic in Hamilton, Ontario on July 1st.
It was a homecoming of sorts for many on the roster who spend most of the year playing in the NBA, and fans took the opportunity to see them in person before a long stint of away games.
The team then headed to the U.S. Virgin Islands for another game on Monday — both games counting towards Canada’s journey of qualifying for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
NBA players on the Canadian roster included Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Utah Jazz), Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks), and Kelly Olynyk (Detroit Pistons). None of the NBA players joined Canada in their qualifying games in November or February because of NBA season commitments.
On Friday, Canada won 95-75 in a game that started off even on both sides. In the second quarter, the Dominican Republic even led at one point — but it was the Canadians who went into halftime with a ten point lead.
From there, Canada continued to extend their lead into the fourth — allowing head coach Nick Nurse to play every man on his roster in front of home fans.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led all scorers with 32 points, and also led in blocks and steals with two and three respectively. Kelly Olynyk led in rebounds with 11 and in assists with six.
The team wasn’t done yet — they headed down to St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) and to play their second game of the long weekend on Monday.
It didn’t take as much time as it did Friday for the Canadians to get ahead in the score. By the end of the first quarter, Canada led 28-8, and were able to keep up that lead going into the half at 52-21. The game ended with Canada up 113-67, securing two important wins as they attempt to get to the FIBA World Cup.
Gilgeous-Alexander led all scorers again with 24 points, with Dwight Powell leading in rebounds at six, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker leading in assists with seven.
Notable players that returned to the roster after helping Canada in November and February were Aaron Best, Phil Scrubb and Thomas Scrubb (who scored 13 points, five rebounds and two assists in Monday’s game).
The team will now take a break before returning to action in the FIBA Americup in early September.
The Canadian Men’s National Team currently ranks 18th in the World according to FIBA, and while they came close to making the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, they fell short. With Coach Nick Nurse and an all-star roster committed to the team through the Paris 2024 Olympics, hopes are high that they can make appearances at both the 2023 FIBA World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.
Their counterparts — the Women’s Senior National Team — will compete at the Women’s FIBA World Cup in Sydney, Australia in September. The Women are ranked #4 in the World by FIBA after making it to the 2020 Tokyo Games and are expected to appear at the Olympics in 2024 as well.
It’s an exciting time for Canada Basketball as both the Men’s and Women’s teams are on the rise and Canada continues to put itself on the map as a basketball country. With more and more Canadian kids being drafted into the NBA and WNBA than ever before, you can expect lots of talent on the National Teams for years to come.