Canada (0-0) vs. Greece (0-0)
When: Tuesday, June, 29, 7:05 p.m. ET
Where: Victoria Memorial Arena, Victoria, B.C.
FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament kick-off: The Senior Men’s National Team will open up play in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday evening against Greece. After the coronavirus pandemic halted international competition last year, the event, originally scheduled for June 2020, is now underway and Canada Basketball is thrilled to serve as host to one of four Qualifying Tournaments.
“Hosting the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament is a great occasion for basketball in our country and the team that’s been selected to represent Canada this week is committed to our goal of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games," said Rowan Barrett, General Manager / Executive Vice-President, Senior Men's Program. "On behalf of Canada Basketball and our supporters across Canada, I would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to the players and staff for their commitment, sacrifice and pride for our country.”
Team Canada captain Cory Joseph echoed Barrett’s statement. As a 10-year veteran with the Senior Men’s National Team, who has spent more than 15 years with Team Canada playing for its various teams, Joseph is thrilled to be suiting up and hitting the court at home as the team looks to advance to the Olympics for the first time since 2000. “I’m very thankful to have this tournament being held in Canada,” he said. “FIBA has done an amazing job of putting this together so far. I’m here and I’m very thankful and very excited to get this show on the road and try to go out there and play hard in front of this great nation.”
Roster unveiled: The Canadian Senior Men’s National Team announced its roster for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria on Monday. Coming into the tournament ranked 21st in the FIBA World Ranking, Presented by NIKE, Canada’s roster features a mix of Team Canada veterans as well as some new faces making their Team Canada debut. Led by Joseph, the roster also features Nickeil Alexander-Walker, RJ Barrett, Trae Bell-Haynes, Anthony Bennett, Aaron Doornekamp, Luguentz Dort, Trey Lyles, Mychal Mulder, Andrew Nicholson, Dwight Powell and Andrew Wiggins. The team will be coached by Canada Basketball head coach Nick Nurse as well as Associate Head Coach Gordie Herbert and assistant coaches Nate Bjorkgren and Nathaniel Mitchell.
“I'm happy with how the team came together in the end,” Nurse said. “I think it’s pieced together well, I think that there's some really committed, passionate guys along with talent. I think there’s a deep team here. I think there’s some guys that play really specific roles and play those roles well. That makes a team a team.”
Though the Canadians have only had the last two weeks to get familiar and practice together following an extended layoff due to the coronavirus, the group has made the most of its time on court.
“They’ve been great,” Nurse said of the players representing Canada. “They’ve really practiced hard and well. They’ve been super focused. [We haven’t had any] games or prep games or anything like that, but we’re going to find out a lot more tomorrow about who we are and who we can become [and we’re] very pleased with where we are sitting here today.
Things to know heading into Day 1 of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Victoria:
Tournament format: Seven teams have already directly qualified for the Tokyo Olympics as a result of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, along with Japan earning an automatic qualification as the host team. To determine the remaining four places for the Tokyo Olympics, there are four FIBA Qualifying Tournaments, taking place in Canada, Croatia, Lithuania and Serbia. These tournaments are made up of the 16 best-placed non-qualified teams from the FIBA Basketball World Cup, along with two highest-ranked countries per region in the FIBA World Ranking, presented by NIKE. The winner from each Qualifying Tournament will punch their ticket to Tokyo.
Canada’s schedule: Canada will open tournament play on Tuesday as they take on Greece at 7:05 p.m. ET. They will play again on Wednesday, June 30, this time facing off against China at 7:05 p.m. ET. The top two teams in each of Group A and B will then advance to the tournament semifinals.
Where to watch: Fans in Canada can catch all of the action live on CBC across various platforms, both on television and online, as well as streaming live on DAZN. In the United States, the games will be streamed live on ESPN+.