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Team Canada officially heads to the FIBA World Cup: roster, tournament format and more

After splitting a pair of games in Spain and news that they will be WITHOUT Jamal Murray, it’s time for Canada to take on the World.

Canada V Dominican Republic - City Of Granada Tournament Photo By Alex Camara/Europa Press via Getty Images

The FIBA World Cup Group stage kicks off later this week in Jakarta, Indonesia and the Canadian Senior Men’s team has possibly their best chance in history of making it far in the tournament. With a roster including some incredible NBA players, Canada will be put to the test this month against the World.

Getting the bad news out first: it was announced late last week that Jamal Murray would not be joining the team in Indonesia for the World Cup. After winning an NBA championship with the Denver Nuggets in June, and also still being just a few years out from a devastating ACL tear and recovery process, it was determined that Murray should sit out. Though he is still determined to join the team for the Olympic Games in Paris next summer, there will be no Kitchener Thunder in Jakarta this month.

Though disappointing for Team Canada and their fans, there is still a lot to look forward to from this roster. They won all but one of their games in Germany to win the DBB Super Cup a few weeks ago. Then, they headed to Spain, where they beat Team Spain and then lost to Team Dominican Republic. As we’ve watched the team get acclimated to playing with each other this month, there is a lot of good to take from it.

RJ Barrett, who plays in the NBA for the New York Knicks after being picked third overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, looked amazing as he led Canada to victory against Germany, scoring 31 points in that game with an impressive 12 for 13 shooting day from the field.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had an MVP calibre season in the NBA last year for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and will surely put on a show on the World Stage. The team will also rely heavier on Nickeil Alexander-Walker now with Murray out — Alexander-Walker has been on a few teams in his short NBA career, but is now on the Minnesota Timberwolves where he seems to making a place for himself.

Lu Dort, Kelly Olynyk, Dillon Brooks, and Dwight Powell are the other NBA players on Canada’s roster. The roster is rounded out by Kyle Alexander, Trae Bell-Haynes, Zach Edey, Melvin Ejim, Phil Scrubb, Thomas Scrubb, and Kenny Chery — many of which contributed to Canada’s World Cup qualifier games over the past year.

New Head Coach Jordi Fernandez (associate Head Coach, Sacramento Kings) will also coach in his first major tournament since taking on the head coaching role just a few months ago. On his staff he is joined by Nate Bjorkgren and Nathaniel Mitchell.

Canada kicks off their World Cup journey on Friday August 25th as they play Team France at 9:30am ET. Canada is in Group H with France, Lebanon, and Latvia. The way the stages work in this tournament is a little confusing, but here is Canada’s potential path:

Round One: Group Stage: Each team will play the three other teams in their group once. The two teams with the top record in each group will move on to the second round of the group phase. The bottom two teams in each group will play in the classification round.

Each Group is paired with one other group in the location that they are playing the first two rounds of the tournament — this is important for later. For Canada (in Group H), that means being in Indonesia with Group G (Spain, Iran, Brazil and Cote D’Ivoire).

Important: All teams will carry their record from Round One into the next phase.

Round Two: Group Stage: The top 16 teams from the first round advance. If Canada makes it here, them and the other Group H team that make it will be paired with the top two teams from Group G to form a NEW group — Group L. Stay with me.

The teams in this round then play two games — one each against the two teams they DID NOT FACE in round one. For example, if Canada and Latvia progress from Group H, and Iran and Brazil advance from Group G, then Canada would play a game against Brazil and one against Iran.

Then, the records from the first and second rounds are combined, and the TOP TWO teams from each of the NEW Groups advance to the knockout stage.

Knockout Rounds: It gets simpler here. The top eight teams from Round Two will then be placed in a bracket based on their records. They will play a knockout tournament (like March Madness), until two teams remain for the final. Then someone will win! Simple!

Us right now:

Classification Round: When teams are knocked out from the first and second rounds, they will then need to play Classification rounds to determine their place in the overall tournament. These are important to determine Olympic qualifier spots. These games will take place concurrently with the tournament. Hopefully it doesn’t get to this for Canada!

Luckily, all games will be available for Canadians to watch on Sportsnet. They will be broadcasting the games with coverage and analysis for the whole tournament.

Make sure to cheer on Canada as they start their World Cup journey Friday in Indonesia against France. The game kicks off at 9:30am on Sportsnet.