CANADA TAKES ON U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS TODAY AS THE FIBA BASKETBALL WORLD CUP 2019 AMERICAS QUALIFIERS CONTINUE
NASSAU, BAH (February 22, 2018) - Canada's quest for a FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 berth continues today in Bahamas as the senior men's national team takes on U.S. Virgin Islands to open the second window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers.
The action begins at 4:30 p.m. (EST) from the Kendal G. L. Isaacs National Gymnasium in Nassau. For any Canadians in Bahamas, tickets are available at the box office for Thursday's game, while fans back home in Canada can catch all the action streaming live on DAZN.
Gordie Herbert, who currently coaches the Fraport Skyliners of the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) in Germany, will make his head coaching debut for Canada as the team looks to improve to 2-1. Joining Herbert will be assistant coaches Michael Meeks, Jack Sikma and Nathaniel Mitchell, all of who coached Canada during the first window of competition.
The three aforementioned assistant coaches aren't the only ones returning as six players who represented Canada last November are back for the second window. Joel Anthony, Brady Heslip, Thomas Scrubb, Anthony Bennett, Dyshawn Pierre and Kaza Kajami-Keane all represented Canada during the first window of competition and will look to lead the team to victory this afternoon.
Guard Jermaine Anderson, who made his senior men's national team debut in 2004, returns to the lineup after representing Canada last summer at the FIBA AmeriCup 2017. Anderson isn't the only former member of the team back in the mix as Melvin Ejim, Jevohn Shepherd and Kyle Landry have been called upon to provide a veteran presence.
While the previously mentioned players are no strangers to representing Canada at the this level, a pair of former U SPORTS standouts will make their debut with the team this week. For Aaron Best and Adika Peter-McNeilly, who both played at Ryerson University, Thursday's game will be their first as members of the senior men's national team. However, both have international experience under their belts, as the pair represented Canada at the 28th Summer Universiade 2015 in Gwangju, South Korea.
For Canada to be successful on Thursday against U.S. Virgin Islands, they'll need to contain centre Jamaal Samuel and point guard Walter Hodge. Through the first window, Samuel leads the Americas Qualifers in scoring, averaging 25.5 points per game, while Hodge sits sixth with 19.0 points.
Following Thursday's game, Canada will conclude the second window with a matchup against Bahamas on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 8:00 pm.
Canada is in Group D along with Bahamas, Dominican Republic and U.S. Virgin Islands. Each team faces the other three teams on a home and away basis with the top three teams from each group advancing to the second round.
After opening the Americas Qualifiers with a dominant 93-69 win over Bahamas in front of a near capacity crowd at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax back in November, Canada fell 88-76 on the road to Dominican Republic to conclude the first window with a 1-1 record.