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canada basketball

Canada shuffles roster for Monday’s FIBA qualifier

A lot of NBA talent is staying home.

Photo credit: Trung Ho / TrungHo.ca

Photo credit: Trung Ho / TrungHo.ca

Canada Basketball announced Sunday that they have shuffled their roster ahead of Monday’s FIBA qualifier in Chile.

The new roster is as follows:

Name Position Height Hometown Last / Current Club
Joel Anthony Centre 6’9″ Montreal, QC San Lorenzo Basket (Argentina)
Trae Bell-Haynes Guard 6’2″ Toronto, ON Fraport Skyliners (Germany)
Aaron Best Guard 6’4″ Scarborough, ON Raptor 905 (G-League)
Manny Diressa Guard 6’4″ Toronto, ON KK FMP (Serbia)
Melvin Ejim Forward 6’6″ Toronto, ON BC UNICS (Russia)
Joel Friesen Guard 6’4″ Abbotsford, BC London Lightning (NBL Canada)
Brady Heslip Guard 6’2″ Burlington, ON Fraport Skyliners (Germany)
Justin Jackson Forward 6’7″ Scarborough, ON Orlando Magic
Kaza Kajami-Keane Guard 6’2″ Ajax, ON Landstede Zwolle (Netherlands)
Kyle Landry Centre 6’10” Calgary, AB Buducnost (Montenegro)
Duane Notice Guard 6’2″ Woodbridge, ON BM Slam Stal (Poland)
Dyshawn Pierre Forward 6’6″ Whitby, ON Banco di Srd (Italy)

Drawing in are Joel Anthony, Trae Bell-Haynes, Joel Friesen, Kyle Landry, and Duane Notice, taking the places of Kevin Pangos, Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk, Tristan Thompson, and Khem Birch. (Kaza Keane, Dyshawn Pierre, and Manny Diressa were all on Thursday’s roster but drew DNPs.) With a lengthy flight to Chile ahead of the team for just one game and NBA players due to report for training camps in the coming week, it makes sense that some of the high-end talent on the Canadian side isn’t available for the second game in this quadrant. It also makes some sense for Roy Rana and company to begin to try to build cohesion and chemistry with some of the players who will be available during the two winter quadrants, when NBA and EuroLeague players won’t be.

That’s not to say Canada is experimenting here against Chile – even at 1-6, Chile has a raucous home crowd and Monday’s game is said to be sold out. Given how thin the margins for error are even with such a strong start to World Cup qualifying, Canada needs that Monday win as bad as any other and can’t take Chile lightly by any means. The 12 they’re bringing with them are a strong group in their own right, even if they’re light on household names. Melvin Ejim, Aaron Best, and Brady Heslip can be expected to carry a lot of the weight given their FIBA/international experience, and names like Pierre, Justin Jackson (if he’s not in the NBA), and Notice will get a chance to showcase for bigger roles come November and February.

Canada defeated Brazil on Thursday in what amounted to a must-win at home given it’s their last qualifier with a likely NBA/EuroLeague presence. That win elevated Canada to 6-1, tied for the best mark in Group F with Venezuela. A win Monday in Chile would push Canada to 7-1 and, with Venezuela playing the Dominican Republic, give them another game of cushion against one of their biggest threats for a top-three spot in the group. Venezuela defeated Dominican Republic in overtime tonight, improving to 7-1 and knocking D.R. to 5-3 (Brazil is at 6-2 after a forfeit victory over the Virgin Islands).

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