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Like the United States, Canada’s qualifiers roster was greatly different from their current preliminary side. Unlike the USA, Canada looks to reward players from the preliminary squad that might carry their form over into training camp.
All things considered, Canada is a deep team with widespread talent. From the NBA to the NCAA, and overseas, Canada has shown it is a nation that does not discriminate based on the league.
|Aaron Best (#2)||Guard||MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg|
|Melvin Ejim (#3)||Forward||UNICS Kazan|
|Brady Heslip (#4)||Guard||Fraport Skyliners|
|Adika Peter-Mcneilly (#6)||Guard||Mitteldeutscher BC|
|Connor Morgan (#9)||Forward||Divina Seguros Joventut|
|Mychal Mulder (#11)||Guard||Windy City Bulls|
|Kyle Wiltjer (#14)||Forward||Unicaja Baloncesto|
|Joel Anthony (#15)||Center||San Lorenzo de Almagro|
|Thomas Scrubb (#21)||Forward||Pallacanestro Varesa|
|Phil Scrubb (#23)||Guard||Fraport Skyliners|
|Kyle Landry (#33)||Forward||KK Buducnost Voli|
|Kaza Kajami-Keane (#41)||Guard||Landstede Basketbal Regio Zwolle|
|Roy Rana||Head Coach||Canada Basketball|
|Patrick Bruce Tatham||Assistant Coach||Canada Basketball|
|Michael Meeks||Assistant Coach||Canada Basketball|
A few players stood out during the FIBA Americas qualifying round. Particularly, Brady Heslip, Kyle Wiltjer, and Phil Scrubb.
Wiltjer led the team in scoring with 19.3 points per game. Heslip was deadeye from range, shooting 45.3% from three on 6.2 attempts per game. Meanwhile, Scrubb was steady as ever at the point of attack averaging 13.9 points and 4.6 assists per game on 48.6% shooting.
Unsurprisingly they, as well as some others, are a part of the 29-man preliminary roster for Team Canada going into the World Cup.
Canada, unlike many of the other nations that made their preliminary roster public, seem to be giving every single player an opportunity. Despite having a whopping 22 players with NBA experience, they invited seven of their best from their qualifiers run to challenge them. It will be a true battle.
|Nickeil Alexander-Walker||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)||New Orleans Pelicans (USA)|
|RJ Barrett||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)||New York Knicks (USA)|
|Aaron Best||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)||Riesen Ludwigsburg (GER)|
|Luguentz Dort||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)||Oklahoma City Thunder (USA)|
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)||Oklahoma City Thunder (USA)|
|Brady Heslip||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)||Istanbul BB (TUR)|
|Cory Joseph||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)||Sacramento Kings (USA)|
|Naz Mitrou-Long||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)||Salt Lake City Stars (USA)|
|Jamal Murray||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)||Denver Nuggets (USA)|
|Andrew Nembhard||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)||Florida Gators (USA)|
|Kevin Pangos||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)||FC Barcelona (SPA)|
|Phil Scrubb||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)||Zenit Saint Petersburg (RUS)|
|Andy Rautins||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)||Bahcesehir Koleji Istanbul (TUR)|
|Nik Stauskas||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)||Cleveland Cavaliers (USA)|
The guard position is where Team Canada excels. With star players Jamal Murray and RJ Barrett leading the line, Canada maintains one of the tournaments strongest scorers and playmakers in their backcourt.
Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) January 4, 2019
They also have a number of capable three-point shooters (Heslip, Rautins, Stauskas, Pangos), defenders (Dort, Gilgeous-Alexander, Scrubb), and two-way talents (Alexander-Walker, Best, Scrubb). Cutting down the guard position will be tough for coach Nick Nurse.
|Oshae Brissett||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)||Toronto Raptors (USA)|
|Dillon Brooks||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)||Memphis Grizzlies (USA)|
|Aaron Doornekamp||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)||Valencia Basket (SPA)|
|Melvin Ejim||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)||UNICS Kazan (RUS)|
|Mfiondu Kabengele||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)||Los Angeles Clippers (USA)|
|Trey Lyles||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)||San Antonio Spurs (SAS)|
|Kelly Olynyk||7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)||Miami Heat (USA)|
|Dwight Powell||6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)||Dallas Mavericks (USA)|
|Thomas Scrubb||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)||Openjobmetis Varese (ITA)|
|Marial Shayok||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)||Philadelphia 76ers (USA)|
|Kyle Wiltjer||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)||Unicaja Málaga (SPA)|
The forward position is a point of contention for Team Canada. they maintain a glut of versatile options. Who makes the cut will greatly depend on the style of play that Nick Nurse wants to implement.
Kelly Olynyk with the putback dunk over Dirk ??? pic.twitter.com/EbOjjR2UHZ
Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 30, 2018
With the depth of the forward position, you may very well see some of the bigger forwards also occupy time at the centre position. Expect a split right down the middle of scoring-oriented and defence-oriented forwards.
|Khem Birch||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)||Orlando Magic (USA)|
|Chris Boucher||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)||Toronto Raptors (CAN)|
|Brandon Clarke||6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)||Memphis Grizzlies (USA)|
BONJOUR! ?? Up high and down hard! ??
NPH (@NorthPoleHoops) January 23, 2019
While the NBA has gone away from valuing the center, international teams still give a great shine to the pivot position. Team Canada doesn’t maintain a singularly talented low-post option, so who they choose at the five will likely be asked to bring unlimited energy and enthusiasm on defense and on the glass.
Canada certainly has the talent on paper. However, they will be facing off against teams that have years of experience playing together, as well as all-world level talent to challenge them.
It goes without saying that the United States is the most talented squad in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. While their roster is depleted, they still own an incredibly talented roster that can easily compete with Team Canada.
Where the USA have the greatest advantage over Canada is at the center position. With Tristan Thompson pulling out of the tournament, Canada doesn’t have a rebounder that can match the size or energy of Drummond or Plumlee or the length of Turner and Lopez.
Team Canada seems set to implement a fast-paced, pro-style offense to take out their competition. The USA can compete with them athletically, so it will come down to Nick Nurse’s ability to implement an offensively efficient game plan.
? Último entrenamiento de la #SelMAS ?? antes de viajar a PAMPLONA ?
Baloncesto España (@BaloncestoESP) August 1, 2019
Spain is the type of team that Canada has historically struggled with – as a matter of fact, there are few teams that have been able to overcome Spain. Should they meet, their discipline and organization will challenge the inexperience of Canada’s roster.
Sergio Scariolo – NBA assistant to Nick Nurse with the Toronto Raptors – has always implemented a high-post or high pick-and-roll based offense. With the passing ability of Marc Gasol and the Hernangomez brothers, Canada will have to prove their defensive intelligence matches their athleticism.
Can Canada compete with such a disciplined program? Only time will tell. But should these teams meet, Canada will have to prove their lack of time together as a squad won’t impede their ability to compete.
France is an outfit not unlike team Canada. The difference? Rudy Gobert is the tournaments most dangerous defensive center. Canada are thin in the middle and the pick-and-roll based offense of Les Bleus with Gobert and De Colo look to give the young side fits.
Canada is incredibly switchable defensively. Each of their forwards has the ability to guard the two through four on the court. However, without significant backup at the rim in Tristan Thompson, they have little to challenge their opposition.
Nurse will surely look to capitalize in other ways. He owns skilled shooting big men like Vancouver’s Kelly Olynyk and Montreal’s Chris Boucher. While they won’t be able to stop many in the paint one-on-one, they can surely give France’s slow-plodding bigs fits of their own on the perimeter on offense.
If he wasnt an honourary Canadian before, surely he is now.
Canada Basketball (@CanBball) June 24, 2019
Team Canada seems to have found their long term solution at head coach. After some disastrous results led by Jay Triano, Leo Rautins, and Dave Smart, Rowan Barrett (GM of Canada Basketball) seems to have found the right man.
It’s tough to go wrong when you recruit the NBA’s reigning NBA Champion head coach. Nurse organizes an incredibly liberal offensive game plan. Opting for versatility from every position rather than experts in one area.
Nurse has the playmaking in the backcourt, but does he have the assets to convert on their opportunities? None of Canada’s offensive pieces can be considered attacking specialists outside of Jamal Murray, so if the shots aren’t falling Nurse will have to have a capable alternative at hand.
Team Canada were drawn into Group H, otherwise known as the 2019 FIBA World Cup’s Group of Death. They will face off against three of the toughest teams in the world – Senegal, Lithuania, and Australia – with hopes of merely promoting themselves to the second phase. Can Canada overcome this crucible?
Venue: Dongfeng Nissan Cultural and Sports Centre, Dongguan
The Lions are far and away the weakest team in the group. They are however a historically successful African side, among the likes of Nigeria and Angola. Senegal has won five Afrobasket Gold Medals, in 28 appearances.
Senegal is not the most capable scoring team and they have shown difficulty competing on the glass. However, they were third in assists in the Afrobasket Qualifiers, showing an organized and patient offense.
Lithuania has one of the most dangerous frontcourt pairings in the tournament. Jonas Valanciunas and Domantas Sabonis are a high-low post combo that most nations dream of having.
Unfortunately, they are not as strong at the wing position as they once were. The Green are a high-scoring, high-efficiency team. Their threes come off of deep post doubles, but their perimeter game lacks individual creativity. If Canada can stifle the paint, they should have the advantage.
The jury is out on Australia without Ben Simmons in the lineup. They still have incredibly talented backcourt players in Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova, but Simmons is a transcendent playmaker at any level.
Australia are talented at every position, but their draw and kick game is top-tier. With the likes of Andrew Bogut in the paint, with Mills, Dellavedova, and Ingles surrounding him, Australia will challenge the recovery of any team in the tournament.
Canada and Australia are a well-matched pair. Australia has a slight advantage in shooting and rim-protection, but Canada looks to be able to outrun The Boomers, as much as they can any other team in the tournament. Pace will define who can take this matchup.
First Group Stage Prediction: Canada will have their hands full. While they lack experience, they have one of the worlds most capable coaches as well as a team of youthful motivation. They may benefit from Australia and Lithuania not having their top squads, but they can’t take their remaining rosters for granted. Canada advances, Second in Group H.
Canada are not the favorite to win the FIBA World Cup. They are however rated lower than most would predict based on their talent pool alone. Despite underachieving in a FIBA Americas group they should perform better in, they are in China proving their worth.
They look to be a jack-of-all-trades type of team. With talent at every position, but no definitive focus. Whether that will draw positive results is up in the air. They have the youth and talent, but a lot will go into how they organize themselves against top competition.
Being drawn into Group H, Canada won’t get a break all tournament. Should they advance to the knockout rounds, Canada has a real chance of taking the trophy. With the current odds, Canada are an excellent dark horse choice going forward.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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