Canada Basketball has released the names of 21 players that have accepted an invitation for the upcoming 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria, British Columbia
The preliminary “invitation only” list features 14 out of 21 Canadian NBA players and is headlined by Andrew Wiggins, RJ Barrett, Dillon Brooks, Kelly Olynyk, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph.
A total of five players were selected from various top international clubs around the world including former Orlando Magic forward Andrew Nicholson and stalwart Melvin Eljim. Other names also named include Trae Bell-Haynes, Kyle Alexander and Aaron Doornekamp.
Doornekamp, a former standout with the Carleton Ravens, is the only player selected with a U Sports basketball background. All the other 20 players played NCAA college basketball south of the border. Andrew Nembhard, is currently the only player playing collegiate ball, the Gonzaga Bulldogs’ point guard was a valuable piece to Canada’s roster at the 2019 World Cup.
No Chris Boucher, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Kevin Pangos
Notable absences include Oklahoma City Thunder Guard Shai-Gilgeous-Alexander who is dealing with a plantar fascia injury that forced him to miss a significant part of the season. Other big names not included are Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher who decided to fully rehab his injured knee and Kevin Pangos who was selected as a first-team all-star in the Europe league.
“There is no greater feeling in sports than the chance to represent your country on the highest international stage at the Olympic Games,” said Rowan Barrett, General Manager / Executive Vice-President, Senior Men’s Program. “Our players and staff fully recognize the unique opportunity that lies ahead of us and I would like to commend them for their dedication to playing for Canada this summer.”
Training Camp in Tampa Bay, Florida
The team will assemble for an eight-day training camp from June 16-24 in Tampa Bay, Florida at the Toronto Raptors temporary training facilities. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse will have the difficult decision of trimming down the roster to twelve (12) players before flying out Victoria, British Columbia for the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament which runs from June 29-July 4, 2021.
“We’re certainly trying to get the best guys we can get.”Nick Nurse – Head Coach of Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team
“Training in Tampa next month provides our team with a first-class environment that will allow us to safely prepare to achieve our goals at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament,” said Nick Nurse, Head Coach, Senior Men’s National Team. “I’m looking forward to having the players and staff join me here in a few weeks and getting back to work.”
Speaking with media following the announcement, Nurse expressed enthusiasm for the list of players they’re able to assemble and further discussed challenges ahead of cutting down the list down to a final roster, “we’re happy with it, we’re certainly trying to get the best guys we can get.”
“Listen, Shai and Jamal it’s too bad, obviously would have been two huge, huge pieces to the team. Unfortunate. They were both very committed, but unfortunate they won’t be able to make it. But what do you do, you got a bunch of other guys, there is some experience there, there’s some youth there, there all kinds of things, and we’ll have a challenge selecting it down to the final roster, but we will try to piece together so that it fits together.” the Canadian coach continued.
Coaching Staff assembled but not announced
A complete list of the coaching staff wasn’t announced, but according to reports, it has already been assembled. Expected on the sidelines, alongside Nurse will be associated head coach Gordie Herbert who guided Canada to the 2022 FIBA Americas qualification process.
Possible names include Indiana Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren and Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Nathaniel Mitchell. Both Bjorkgren and Mitchell were part of the Canadian coaching staff at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.