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Canada draws tough group for 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifier

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canada draws tough group for 2020 fiba olympic qualifier
Khem Birch and Team Canada to face stiff competition at FIBAOQT - Photo: FIBA

Canada’s Senior Men’s National Basketball (SMNT) faces a tough road to the 2020 Olympic tournament after drawing stiff competition at the official qualifying draw in Switzerland.

No. 21 Canada will play in tough group A in Victoria, British Columbia against No. 7 ranked Greece and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Team Canada will also face rising No. 24 China. Group B features No. 43 Uruguay, No. 10 Czech Republic, No. 15 Turkey.

Canada will need to win the last minute Olympic qualifying tournament at home to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic games.

The top two teams in each group advance to the semi-finals in a crossover game. The tournament runs from July 23-28. The top four teams from each tournament will advance to Tokyo and will join an already impressive field that includes hosts Japan, Argentina, Australia, France, Spain, Iran, Nigeria and the United States.

2020 fiba olympic qualifying tournaments
2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament
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The Czech Republic finished in sixth-place at the recently completed 32-team World Cup in China with a record of 4-4 — with losses coming to the USA 88-67, Greece (84-77), Australia (82-70) and Serbia (90-81). Greece missed out on a top 10 finish after a disappointing 3-2 showing. Turkey showed flashes of brilliance finishing a spot below Canada at 22 with a 2-3 record — losing a close 93-92 group game against the USA.

China also finished with a 2-3 record dropping close games to Poland (79-76), Venezuela (72-59) and Nigeria 86-73. Uruguay, the lowest ranked team of the six is the only team that didn’t qualify for the World Cup.

greece giannis antetokounmpo 2019 fiba world cup basketball
Hellas’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming to Canada for the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament – Photo: FIBA

The six teams coming to Victoria this summer all feature proven NBA star-power, headlined by the Hellas’ Giannis Antekonmpo. The Czech Republic has crafty Chicago Bulls point guard Tomas Satoranksy and Turkey also boasts power forward Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, point guard Ceidi Osman of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Furkan Korkmaz of the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Must Read:  Canada announces final 12-man roster for 2019 FIBA World Cup

Despite the growing global NBA player presence – it is Canada that features the most international players in the world’s best league. After a disappointing 2-3 showing at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Team Canada is expected to put together it’s best roster in years’ — already garnering early official social media commitments from two of Canada’s rising stars. Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have officially announced their intentions. Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, Khem Birch of the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans’ guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker have also made it clearly evident that they will be on hand to help Canada end it’s 20-year summer Olympics drought that dates back to 2000.

Canada will kick-off the tournament against Greece on June 23rd and will play China the next day with a rest day in-between — before the semi-finals on June 27.

2020 fiba olympic qualifying tournament competition format
2020 FIBA Victoria Olympic qualifying tournament competition format

One thing to keep in consideration is the proximity of the qualifying tournament to the NBA Finals. Game 1 on the 2020 NBA Finals is set for Thursday June 4th 2020 and if stretched the distance it will run until Sunday June 21st leaving only two days before the start of the crucial tournament. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors are amongst the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and should they reach the NBA finals it will be interesting to see how it will affect player turnout and other last minute decisions.

Canada’s coaching staff is led by Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse, Greece recently appointed former Kentucky Wildcats head coach Rick Pitino.

Canada failed to reach the 2016 Rio Olympics via the FIBA qualification tournament, falling to eventual fourth-place finisher France in a hard-fought 83-74 battle in Manila, Philippines.

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FIBA

Andrew Nicholson back in the fold as Canada starts FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers

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andrew nicholson back in the fold as canada starts fiba americup 2021 qualifiers
Andrew Nicholson slams it home against the Virgin Islands - Photo: FIBA

2020 is shaping up to be another great year for Canadian basketball fans. The Tokyo summer games are less than five months away and Canada has the slim possibility of potentially sending both senior teams to the Olympics for the first time since 2000.

The ladies did their part, booking a spot in Tokyo with a clean 3-0 FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament sweep in Belgium earlier this month. The men will look to do same in about four months time, via a once in a lifetime qualification tournament in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia.

But before we get ahead to the summer festivities, the first order of business of the new decade for the senior men’s team is the 2021 FIBA AmericaCup qualifiers.

FIBA AmericaCup formely known as the FIBA Americas Championship or the Tournament of Americas is hosted every two years and pits 16 national teams from the Americas zone. Previously, the tournament had qualification implications to the World Cup and the Olympics, but that is no longer the case — although, every game played still counts towards the FIBA World Rankings.

road to 2021 fiba americup
Road to 2021 FIBA AmeriCup
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Canada will kick-off the first of three-qualification windows with a home-and-home series against the Dominican Republic. The FIBA AmeriCup Qualifiers includes 16 teams broken down into four groups. Canada is in Group C and will also play Cuba and the Virgin Islands. The top three teams from each Group will qualify for the FIBA AmeriCup 2021.

Andrew Nicholson a former first-round pick, 19th overall of the Orlando Magic headlines the 12-men roster tasked to take on the always formidable and tough Dominican team. Currently, under contract with China’s Guangzhou Loong Lions and back home due to the unexpected break in action in the Chinese Basketball League (CBL) from the deadly COVID-19 Coronavirus — Nicholson, is a timely and welcome addition.

andrew nicholson backing down argentinas gabriel deck 2017 fiba americup
Andrew Nicholson backing down Argentina’s Gabriel Deck 2017 FIBA Americup – Photo: FIBA

The 6-foot-10 forward last played for Canada at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup — Nicholson’s 12 point, 18 rebound double-double helped the Canadian’s beat hosts Argentina 92-86.

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The roster features four returning players from the 2019 FIBA World Cup as former Carleton Ravens guards’ Philip Scrubb, Kaza-Kajami Keane, join two other U Sports basketball All-Canadian’s in forwards Owen Klassen (Acadia Axemen) and Conor Morgan (UBC Thunderbirds)

Scrubb, a key figure in Canada’s backcourt since the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 championships will earn his 54th and 55th international caps — 44 games played at the senior level and 11 at youth competitions.

The rest of the roster is made up of some new faces as Trae Bell-Haynes and Kassius Robertson make their Canadian team debuts. Most of the players are signed to European clubs with only Duane Notice (Raptors 905), Andrew Nicholson and Tyrell Bellot-Green not playing in Europe.

NamePosition Height Hometown Previous / Current Club
Trae Bell-HaynesGuard6’1”Toronto, ONHelsinki Seagulls (Finland)
Aaron BestGuard6’4”Scarborough, ONPaok Thessaloniki (Greece)
Kaza Kajami-KeaneGuard6’2”Ajax, ONSyntainics MBC Weissenfels (Germany)
Owen KlassenCentre6’10”Kingston, ONTelenet Antwerp Giants (Belgium)
Kyle LandryCentre6’10”Calgary, ABKK Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (Montenegro)
MiKyle McIntoshForward6’7”Pickering, ONFilou Oostende (Belgium)
Conor MorganForward6’9”Victoria, B.C.Divina Seguros Joventut Badalona (Spain)
Andrew NicholsonForward6’9”Mississauga, ONGuangzhou Loong Lions (China)
Duane NoticeGuard6’2”Woodbridge, ONRaptors 905 (G League)
Tyrell Bellot-GreenForward6’7”Toronto, ONLondon Lightning (Canada)
Kassius RobertsonGuard6’3”Toronto, ONLavoropiu Fortitudo Bologna (Italy)
Phil ScrubbGuard6’4″Richmond, BCMovistar Estudiantes Madrid (Spain)

Canada FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers

DATEITEMTIME (ET) LOCATION
February 21, 2020 Canada vs. Dominican Republic7:00 PMTribute Communities Centre –Oshawa, ON
February 24, 2020 Canada @ Dominican Republic7:00 PMPalacio de los Deportes Virgilio Travieso Soto –Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
November 26, 2020 Canada @ Cuba TBD
November 29, 2020 Canada @ U.S. Virgin Islands TBD
February 19, 2020Canada vs. Cuba TBD
February 22, 2020 Canada vs. U.S. Virgin Islands TBD
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FIBA

Canada knocks off Sweden qualifies for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

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natalie achonwa miranda ayim point to tokyo 2020 beat sweden at 2020 fiba olympic qualifying tournament

Canada’s women’s national basketball team is headed for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Team Canada picked-up it’s second victory of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, defeating Team Sweden 80-50 to earn their third straight trip to the summer games.

Natalie Achonwa nearly perfect 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists performance anchored a dominate Canadian offensive attack that featured four players in double-figures. The Indiana Fever power forward knocked-down 8-of-9 field goals in just 17 minutes.

natalie achonwa miranda ayim point to tokyo 2020 beat sweden at 2020 fiba olympic qualifying tournament
Natalie Achonwa and Miranda Ayim point to Tokyo 2020 after beating Sweden at 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament

Shaina Pellington was outstanding with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists. Kia Nurse, Canada’s other WNBA player finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and Miranda Ayim added with 10 points and 3 rebounds.

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All players contributed to win — logging at least five minutes and recording a stat on the scoresheet. 18 year old Laeticia Amihere made her official senior team debut — scoring 8 quick points in games’ final 8 minutes.

The victory will send Canada to their six (7) Olympic games. Team Canada also qualified in 1976, 1984 1996, 2000, 2012, 2016 — earning a country best fourth-place finish at the 1984 Olympiad in Los Angeles, California.

Canada becomes the sixth (6) team to qualify for the games — eight (8) gold medalist, United States, China, France, Nigeria and tournament hosts Japan have also earned there spot. Six more teams will make-up the 12-team showcase. The 2020 games will run from July 24 – August 09.

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