Canada will host one of four Men’s Olympic Basketball qualifying tournaments next summer from June 29 to July 4 in Victoria, according to an announcement from FIBA.
The tournament was slated to take place this June, but the 2020 Olympics were rescheduled due to COVID-19. Canada was set to be one of four hosts — along with Croatia, Serbia, and Lithuania — to determine the final four spots for the Olympics out of a pool of 24 countries.
“Representing your country is one of the greatest honours in sport. I know our players will see the challenge ahead of them next summer as one small opportunity to recognize the daily sacrifices of all the frontline workers who are keeping our country safe and operating during this pandemic,” Glen Grunwald, President & CEO of Canada Basketball said in a press release.
Despite underwhelming showings in recent years, there is momentum and optimism for the Canadian men’s program heading into next summer. For one, there are more Canadian players in the NBA (22) than from any other country outside of the United States, and it’s possible for the national team to field a team entirely comprised of NBA players for the first time ever. Second, the program is led by head coach Nick Nurse, who just led the Toronto Raptors to their first championship. Third, there is more financial backing in the program, as evidenced by Canada winning one of four bids to host the tournament.
Canada would need to win the tournament in Victoria to clinch their first appearance in the Olympics since Sydney 2000. The five other teams in their pool include Greece, who are led by reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, as well as China, Uruguay, Turkey, and Czech Republic.
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