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:

Name Position Height Hometown Last / Current Club
Aaron Best Guard 6’4″ Scarborough, ON Raptor 905 (G-League)
Khem Birch Centre 6’9″ Montreal, QC Orlando Magic
Manny Diressa Guard 6’4″ Toronto, ON KK FMP (Serbia)
Melvin Ejim Forward 6’6″ Toronto, ON BC UNICS (Russia)
Brady Heslip Guard 6’2″ Burlington, ON Fraport Skyliners (Germany)
Justin Jackson Forward 6’7″ Scarborough, ON Orlando Magic
Cory Joseph Guard 6’3″ Toronto, ON Indiana Pacers
Kaza Kajami-Keane Guard 6’2″ Ajax, ON Landstede Zwolle (Netherlands)
Kelly Olynyk Centre 7’0″ Kamloops, BC Miami Heat
Kevin Pangos Guard 6’2″ Newmarket, ON FC Barcelona Lassa (Spain)
Dyshawn Pierre Forward 6’6″ Whitby, ON Banco di Srd (Italy)
Tristan Thompson Forward 6’9″ Brampton, ON Cleveland 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.

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