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canada basketball

Canada announces training camp roster ahead of FIBA qualifiers

What a squad.

Canada Basketball announced the list of players invited to training camp roster ahead of summer FIBA qualifying games on Monday, and it may be one of the most loaded training camp rosters the country’s senior men’s program has ever seen.

“We’re excited to continue the positive momentum that has been created through the first two windows as we look to take another step forward in our goal of qualifying for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019,” head coach Jay Triano said in a release.

“The new qualification structure has showcased the depth of our program, that we have grown over several years, as we currently find ourselves near the top of our group heading into pivotal matchups to conclude the first round,” assistant general manager Rowan Barrett said.  “Hosting meaningful games at home on Canadian soil is an experience our players won’t ever forget.”

The team will hold training camp in Richmond, British Columbia, on June 20 and 21 before playing against China in the Pacific Rim Basketball Classic in Vancouver and Victoria on June 22 and 24, respectively. From there, a roster of 12 will head to Toronto to host Dominican Republic on June 29 and to Ottawa to host U.S. Virgin Islands on July 2.

Canada is 3-1 in the opening qualification round so far and has punched a ticket through to the next stage (which begins in September), but they’ll want to avenge their lone loss in Group D so far, a disappointing defeat at the hands of Dominican Republic. (Bahamas is the other team in Canada’s group; Canada has already beaten them twice.) The top three teams in each group of four advance to the next round, where three of the top six in each pool (plus a seventh team) will advance to the 2019 World Cup. Records carry over into the second stage and these are the programs first home games in a long time, so they obviously wanted to put their best foot forward.

And are they ever. A record 14 Canadians suited up in the NBA this season, and eight of them will be available here, including stalwarts Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson, and Kelly Olynyk. Jamal Murray and Dillon Brooks add some youthful exuberance, Dwight Powell and Khem Birch bring some toughness inside, and Chris Boucher presents a bit of a wild card who could grow into a big part of the program in time. Along with those eight are a few holdovers from the in-season qualifying games, most notably the Scrubb brothers, Kaza Keane and Aaron Best from Raptors 905, and familiar faces in Brady Heslip, Anthony Bennett, Olivier Hanlan, and Andrew Nicholson. Melvin Ejim and Kevin Pangos, who have good arguments as the best Canadians not in the NBA, round out the group.

Name Position Height Hometown Current Club
Anthony Bennett Forward 6’8″ Toronto, ON Maine Red Claws (G-League)
Aaron Best Guard 6’4″ Scarborough, ON Raptors 905 (G-League)
Khem Birch Centre 6’9″ Montreal, QC Orlando Magic
Chris Boucher Forward 6’10” Montreal, QC Golden State Warriors
Dillon Brooks Forward 6’7″ Mississauga, ON Memphis Grizzlies
Melvin Ejim Forward 6’6″ Toronto, ON BC UNICS (Russia)
Olivier Hanlan Guard 6’4″ Aylmer, QC Austin Spurs (G-League)
Brady Heslip Guard 6’2″ Burlington, ON Trabzonspor (Turkey)
Cory Joseph Guard 6’3″ Toronto, ON Indiana Pacers
Kaza Kajami-Keane Guard 6’2″ Ajax, ON Raptors 905 (G-League)
Jamal Murray Guard 6’4″ Kitchener, ON Denver Nuggets
Andrew Nicholson Forward 6’9″ Mississauga, ON Guangdong Southern Tigers (China)
Kelly Olynyk Centre 7’0″ Kamloops, BC Miami Heat
Kevin Pangos Guard 6’1″ Holland Landing, ON BC Zalgiris (Lithuania)
Dwight Powell Forward 6’9″ Toronto, ON Dallas Mavericks
Phil Scrubb Guard 6’3″ Richmond, BC Fraport Skyliners (Germany)
Tommy Scrubb Forward 6’5″ Richmond, BC S.S. Felice Scandone (Italy)
Tristan Thompson Centre 6’9″ Toronto, ON Cleveland Cavaliers

No, there’s no Andrew Wiggins, but this could be the best Canadian roster on paper in years, and possibly ever, depending on how things shake down with availability and injury and so on. It’s not a given all of the players will end up making training camp, but the absence of notable freshman/free agents/potential draft picks/players not interested) shows Canada has obviously filtered this list down already to account for some of those situations. Tyler Ennis, Nik Stauskas, Trey Lyles, and Wiggins are the notable absences, while R.J. Barrett is understandably left off and Manny Diressa is probably the name I most expected to see that isn’t there. It’s a great list, though, with depth of NBA talent, some real scoring punch, a lot of options in the frontcourt, and an opportunity to see how young guys have developed at this level and how more established named have been developing out of sight.

Ticket information for the Vancouver/Victoria exhibitions is as follows:

Tickets for Vancouver will go on sale Thursday, May 31, at 10:00 AM PT at ticketmaster.com. Victoria match tickets will go on sale simultaneously Thursday, May 31, at 10:00 AM PT at selectyourtickets.com. Tickets start as low as $20.

The two actual qualifiers should be a lot of fun. Ticket information for those is expected to come out in the near future.

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