Canada Basketball released their final roster for this week’s FIBA qualifiers on Thursday. Head coach Jay Triano and staff had some very tough decisions to make with 17 deserving names at what was said to be a very competitive camp, and they waited pretty close to the 24-hour buzzer before their first game to make their decisions.
The most notable inclusions on the list are R.J. Barrett, the teenage phenom who was maybe the team’s best player across two exhibition games in British Columbia earlier this week, and Andrew Nembhard, who was a standout with the U-18s. They’ll be joined by NBA players Khem Birch, Dillon Brooks, Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk, and Dwight Powell as well as Euro standouts Melvin Ejim and Brady Heslip, the Scrubb brothers, and Anthony Bennett.
The five cuts from the camp roster were Raptors 905 players Kaza Keane and Aaron’s best, Olivier Hanlan (dealing with an ankle sprain), Andrew Nicholson, and Chris Boucher. The full roster is as follows:
|R.J. Barrett||Guard||6’7″||Mississauga, ON||Montverde Academy (Florida)|
|Anthony Bennett||Forward||6’8″||Toronto, ON||Maine Red Claws (G-League)|
|Khem Birch||Centre||6’9″||Montreal, QC||Orlando Magic|
|Dillon Brooks||Forward||6’7″||Mississauga, ON||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Melvin Ejim||Forward||6’6″||Toronto, ON||BC UNICS (Russia)|
|Brady Heslip||Guard||6’2″||Burlington, ON||Trabzonspor (Turkey)|
|Cory Joseph||Guard||6’3″||Toronto, ON||Indiana Pacers|
|Andrew Nembhard||Guard||6’4″||Aurora, ON||Montverde Academy (Florida)|
|Kelly Olynyk||Centre||7’0″||Kamloops, BC||Miami Heat|
|Dwight Powell||Forward||6’9″||Toronto, ON||Dallas Mavericks|
|Phil Scrubb||Guard||6’3″||Richmond, BC||Fraport Skyliners (Germany)|
|Tommy Scrubb||Forward||6’6″||Richmond, BC||S.S. Felice Scandone (Italy)|
There is a ton to like here. Canada is maybe a little thin on the wings, but they’re loaded with international experience, have a very deep frontcourt, and have one of the best guard corps they could have hoped for in this window. This isn’t a best-case scenario roster looking ahead to a potential 2019 World Cup berth. It is, however, a near best-case for a June/July qualifying window and one of Canada’s deepest rosters ever and their best since at least the 2015 AmeriCup (you can fairly easily argue this one is better). (As an aside, both Jamal Murray and Tristan Thompson are considered possibilities to join the team for September qualifiers, when Barrett and Nembhard would seem unlikely to be available.)
These 12 players will host the Dominican Republic at Ricoh Colisseum in Toronto on Friday and then host the U.S. Virgin Islands in Ottawa on Monday.
Both games are part of the first round of qualifying for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. 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. Canada will likely be looking to hang a victory of 12 or more points on D.R. so that they can take over top spot in their pool. Records carry over into the second stage, and these are the programs first home games in a long time, so they’re understandably hungry to make a statement in each. (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.