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Canadian Men’s National Team kicks off World Cup training camp

The star studded Canadian National Basketball Team has arrived in Toronto to start preparations for the FIBA World Cup.

World Cup basketball training camp Lance McMillan/Toronto Star via Getty Images

It’s an exciting time for fans of the Canadian National Men’s Basketball program, as Canadian talent in the sport is growing at a quick pace. After a few disappointing results at previous tournaments, including the most recent narrow miss of a ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, hopes are high this summer for the team.

Last year, it was announced that a whole roster of top Canadian talent had committed to the team for both the 2023 FIBA World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. That commitment included their head coach Nick Nurse at the time, but Nurse stepped down from his position on the national team just a few months ago due to his new position as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. He was replaced by Sacramento Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez.

Despite the last minute coaching change so close to the FIBA World Cup, excitement surrounding the Canadian roster is at an all time high. Jamal Murray (who is at the moment questionable to play due to his extended NBA season but is at camp) just won an NBA championship — and had a HUGE hand in helping the Denver Nuggets to victory. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had an MVP calibre season for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and his talent seems to grow everyday. RJ Barrett has been an instrumental part of the New York Knicks success in recent seasons. The team has 10 total NBA players on the roster.

The team kicked off training camp on August 1 in Toronto, assembling at the Toronto Raptors OVO Practice facility. They will stay in Toronto for camp from August 1-6th, before heading to Germany for three exhibition games, then to Spain for two more exhibition games.

Then, it’s off to Indonesia for the FIBA World Cup group stage. Obviously, performing well at the World Cup is important to the program, but this is also an Olympic qualifying tournament, so the pressure is doubled. Canada will have to be among the two best teams in the Americas region to clinch one of the seven Olympic spots being handed out at the FIBA World Cup.

The World Cup kicks off August 25th in Indonesia with the group stage round robin. Canada will be up against France, Lebanon and Latvia in their group. If they make it to the knockout stage, they will compete in a do or die tournament in an attempt to make it to the podium.

Obviously with a roster like Canada has, hopes are high they will make the podium. Jamal Murray seems to be the only Canada superstar in question to play the moment. The team is monitoring his health after he played in the NBA well into June, as to not injure or exhaust the superstar. Though, you’d hope if he misses the first games of the tournament, and Canada makes it far, that he may make an appearance late in the tournament.

As basketball becomes a more global sport by the year, there are many countries that will give Canada a challenge this summer. Obviously, Team USA is top of mind, as they’ve dominated both FIBA and Olympic tournaments, men’s and women’s, for decades. For this tournament, Team USA has put together a team of young and promising NBA talent. Could Canada’s roster of experienced NBA talent and super star young players overcome the Americans?

Another challenge for Canada will come in their fellow group team, France. France has been climbing the ranks in basketball for a while, again on both the men’s and women’s sides of the sport. France already has a ticket to the Olympics, as the hosts automatically get a spot, but France will be looking to go far in World Cup tournament. Australia is another powerhouse of basketball talent that Canada will have to look out for.

Still, it’s hard not to hope for the best after watching the season Gilgeous-Alexander had, or Barrett or Murray. These players are hungry to prove not only themselves, but Canada as a basketball powerhouse. They have seen the improvements and achievements of the Canadian Women’s Basketball program, who were 4th place in their own FIBA tournament last year. They know Canadian talent is taking the NBA by storm in recent years. They are ready to prove to the world that Canada is a top basketball country.

Another thing to note is that every player that committed to the team is in attendance at camp. Even as Jamal Murray’s availability is in doubt, he is at camp with the team. It’s an exciting time for the program, as it seems the players are as locked into the goal as the fans and organization are. Even Jordi Fernandez, the squad’s new head coach, says that taking the coaching job for Canada was an “easy decision.”

It’s been a long time coming, but Canada’s hopes look incredible going into the FIBA World Cup. All eyes will be on Canada as they travel this summer — but the higher the hopes, the harder the fall. Canada basketball fans know the feeling of just missing the Olympics, or coming close in a game but not being able to overpower their opponent.

We are in a new era of Canadian Basketball — so can this star-studded roster shake the results of years past and forge the unknown path to glory? That’s the plan for Canada.

Stay tuned for more updates as we approach the FIBA World Cup at the end of August.