Toronto, Ont. — Canada’s men’s national basketball team kicked-off a seven game 2019 Pre-FIBA World Cup award tour with a 96-87 win over Nigeria.
Head Coach Nick Nurse was successful in his debut — guiding Canada to the victory despite only three practices and nearly reaching the century mark against the best current African basketball nation.
Montreal’s Khem Birch was a force to be reckoned with — scoring 14 of Canada’s 30 points in the paint to lead four Canadians in double digits. The Orlando Magic forward added 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Birch dominated a physical and athletic Nigerian team by shooting 6-for-8 from the floor while playing a team-high 24 minutes including several highlight dunks.
Kyle Witjer continued were he left-off in the FIBA qualification rounds with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists on 4-of-9 three-pointers. Burlington, Ontario’s Brady Heslip also knocked 4-of-5 triples and finished with 12 points and 3 assists.
Canada knocked down 15-of-36 (41.7%) three-pointers and limited Nigeria to just 5-of-31 (16%) from downtown.
Melvin Ejim showcased his all-round game to the capacity crowd with 11 points and four rebounds in just 17 minutes.
Cory Joseph orchestrated the Canadian offense with game-high 9 assists to go along with 6 points and 6 rebounds.
Canada’s offense racked up 28 assists against a reasonable 14 turnovers.
Nigeria was led by Minnesota Timberwolves’ high-flying guard Josh Okogie with a game-high 18 points. Stanley Okoye added 16 points. Al-Farouq Aminu pulled a game-high 11 rebounds and 7 points.
Kelly Olynyk injury
From our view and angle – It did not look good, and Canadian fans should definitely brace themselves for no Olynyk moving forward. It appeared that Olynyk slipped on wet spot and landed awkwardly on his right knee. The Miami Heat forward and veteran Canadian player attempted to get back on his feet via some help from Nigerian forward Al-Farouq Aminu but immediately went down wincing in pain. Olynyk did manage to eventually get back-up and had brief conversation with Cory Joseph — but immediately went to the locker under his own power.
Jamal Murray + RJ Barrett courtside
Despite being unable to participate, both Jamal Murray and RJ Barrett sat courtside next to the Canadian bench. Both players were expected to play for Canada but unfortunately were forced to sit out due to nagging injuries.
Andrew Nicholson back in the fold as Canada starts FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Name||Position||Height||Hometown||Previous / Current Club|
|Trae Bell-Haynes||Guard||6’1”||Toronto, ON||Helsinki Seagulls (Finland)|
|Aaron Best||Guard||6’4”||Scarborough, ON||Paok Thessaloniki (Greece)|
|Kaza Kajami-Keane||Guard||6’2”||Ajax, ON||Syntainics MBC Weissenfels (Germany)|
|Owen Klassen||Centre||6’10”||Kingston, ON||Telenet Antwerp Giants (Belgium)|
|Kyle Landry||Centre||6’10”||Calgary, AB||KK Buducnost VOLI Podgorica (Montenegro)|
|MiKyle McIntosh||Forward||6’7”||Pickering, ON||Filou Oostende (Belgium)|
|Conor Morgan||Forward||6’9”||Victoria, B.C.||Divina Seguros Joventut Badalona (Spain)|
|Andrew Nicholson||Forward||6’9”||Mississauga, ON||Guangzhou Loong Lions (China)|
|Duane Notice||Guard||6’2”||Woodbridge, ON||Raptors 905 (G League)|
|Tyrell Bellot-Green||Forward||6’7”||Toronto, ON||London Lightning (Canada)|
|Kassius Robertson||Guard||6’3”||Toronto, ON||Lavoropiu Fortitudo Bologna (Italy)|
|Phil Scrubb||Guard||6’4″||Richmond, BC||Movistar Estudiantes Madrid (Spain)|
Canada FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers
|February 21, 2020||Canada vs. Dominican Republic||7:00 PM||Tribute Communities Centre –Oshawa, ON|
|February 24, 2020||Canada @ Dominican Republic||7:00 PM||Palacio 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, 2020||Canada vs. Cuba||TBD|
|February 22, 2020||Canada vs. U.S. Virgin Islands||TBD|
Canada knocks off Sweden qualifies for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
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.
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.
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.