The star-studded live draw ceremony for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 has concluded, outlining Canada’s pathway to regain international basketball relevancy and end their 23-year Olympic basketball drought.
Following a strong and dominant FIBA Americas qualification process, No. 15 ranked Canada has been slotted into Group H alongside France, Latvia and Lebanon for the upcoming 32-team, FIBA World Cup 2023 hosted by the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.
Team Canada will open group H action against No. 5 ranked France on Friday, August 25, will take No. 43 Lebanon two days later on Sunday, August 27th before closing the group stage games against upstart No. 29 Latvia on Tuesday, August 29.
Selected as the preferred team for commercial reasons by Indonesia, Canada will play their Group Phase games at the beautiful and newly built Indonesia Arena in Jakarta. The World Cup tips off August 25 and concludes on September 10 across three different host countries.
Canada qualified for their 15th FIBA World Cup with a nearly perfect 11-1 record and a first place finish in the Americas zone.
The team used a combination of Canadian university, professional and NBA players in the six tournament windows over 15 months and became the first team to qualify for the World Cup. Canada posted a 351+ point differential while averaging 97.7 points and holding teams to just 68.4 points per game.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Hamilton, Ont.) committed to play for Canada. The NBA all-star guard averaged 26.3 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in three games against the Dominican Republic, Virgin Island and Argentina.
France, a perennial powerhouse in international basketball, will be a tough test for Canada. Led by Victor Wembayama, the projected number overall pick in the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft, Les Blues will be without Rudy Gobert, but like Canada have a bevy of NBA talent to choose from.
Philadelphia 76ers superstar center and Cameroon-born Joel Embiid could also join the French national team after obtaining naturalized citizenship over the summer.
Latvia is making their first appearance at a FIBA men’s World Cup and features NBA players Kristaps Prozingis (Washington Wizards) and Davis Bertans (Dallas Mavericks). The debutants finished their European qualification with a record of 9-1, earning wins over powerhouses Serbia and Greece.
Lebanon, are back in the World Cup stage for the first time since 2010 and will be making their fourth overall appearance in FIBA’s flagship event after missing the 2019 edition in China.
Canada is 0-3 against France in a FIBA World Cup games dating back to 1954 and holds an even 1-1 record versus Lebanon, losing to the Cedars 81-71 at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and winning their first match-up 91-67 in 2002.
Canada and Latvia have never faced off in a FIBA world cup game, but the two teams previously met in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Led Gordon Aitchison and other stars from the Windsor V-8’s, Canada defeated Latvia 34-23 in the second-round of the Olympic tournament.
FIBA World Cup to 2024 Paris Olympic Games
Canada can end their 23-year Olympic basketball drought by directly qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games with a top-two finish amongst teams from the Americas. Overall, seven of the twelve Olympic spots will be determined by the final standings at FIBA men’s basketball World Cup 2023.
The seven spots will include two teams from the Americas, two teams from Europe, one team from Africa, one team from Asia and one team from Oceania.
In order to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Canada will need to at least reach the quarter-finals stage of the World Cup. The Canadians will likely require wins over France, Latvia in the group stage and No. 13 Brazil and No. 1 Spain in the crossover Group G match-ups in the knockout stages.
Strong exhibition schedule leading into the world cup
Canada basketball has lined-up a total of five exhibition games leading-up to the World Cup. From August 12-13, Team Canada will play Germany, China and New Zealand in the 34th Basketball Supercup.
Following the tournament, Canada will travel to spain, for a two-game exhibition series against a tough Spanish team and the Dominican Republic on August 17-18 at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes de Granada.
Training camp is set to kick-off in early August in Toronto, Ontario.