Canada announces roster for Thursday’s FIBA qualifier

4 mins read
Photo credit: Trung Ho / TrungHo.ca

Photo credit: Trung Ho, TrungHo.ca

Canada Basketball announced the roster of 12 they’ll be rolling with for Thursday’s FIBA qualifier in Laval against Brazil. The team can tweak the roster ahead of Monday’s game in Chile, and it’s very likely they will as the NBA participants have to begin heading back to training camps.

The roster is as follows:

NamePositionHeightHometownLast / Current Club
Aaron BestGuard6’4″Scarborough, ONRaptor 905 (G-League)
Khem BirchCentre6’9″Montreal, QCOrlando Magic
Manny DiressaGuard6’4″Toronto, ONKK FMP (Serbia)
Melvin EjimForward6’6″Toronto, ONBC UNICS (Russia)
Brady HeslipGuard6’2″Burlington, ONFraport Skyliners (Germany)
Justin JacksonForward6’7″Scarborough, ONOrlando Magic
Cory JosephGuard6’3″Toronto, ONIndiana Pacers
Kaza Kajami-KeaneGuard6’2″Ajax, ONLandstede Zwolle (Netherlands)
Kelly OlynykCentre7’0″Kamloops, BCMiami Heat
Kevin PangosGuard6’2″Newmarket, ONFC Barcelona Lassa (Spain)
Dyshawn PierreForward6’6″Whitby, ONBanco di Srd (Italy)
Tristan ThompsonForward6’9″Brampton, ONCleveland Cavaliers

That’s a fun mix of talent from around the globe, including four NBA players, one unsigned draft pick, a G Leaguer, and a handful of elite international players who fit the FIBA system incredibly well. Perhaps most importantly, there’s also a good mix of players who can help only now and who could conceivably be available for the two qualifying segments that occur during the NBA season, when the very top talent will not be available.

Missing from the earlier camp roster are Dillon Brooks (illness), Joel Anthony, Trae Bell-Haynes, Joel Friesen, Kyle Landry, and Duane Notice. It’s possible one of those latter names could draw in Monday for additional exposure and experience, whereas Thursday’s game – because it’s at home and because it’s against a higher-end Brazil team – requires an absolute best 12 of those available to be put forward. R.J. Barrett is expected to be in attendance for Thursday’s game to support the team, as well.

The team enters the second qualification round at 5-1 with a +153 point differential and will need to finish in the top three of the six-team group that includes Dominican Republic, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, and U.S. Virgin Islands. The best fourth-place team between the two remaining pools will also qualify, making it seven teams from the Americas headed to the 2019 World Cup. From there, Canada would have a chance to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

The schedule for the second round is as follows, with Canada’s home games in bold:

Sept. 13 – Canada vs. Brazil
Sept. 16 – Canada at Chile
Nov. 30 – Canada at Venezuela
Dec. 3 – Canada at Brazil
Feb. 21 – Canada vs. Chile
Feb. 24 – Canada vs. Venezuela
We’ll have recaps of each game, as usual.