Team Canada could not have had a worse draw for the FIBA Basketball World Cup of 2019. 32 teams were divided into 8 groups. Despite winning their qualifying group with a 10-2 record, seeds were decided with an eye towards past performance in big tournaments, rather than the qualification tournament itself. Canada is seed 23. After the draw this morning, that stung even more.
Canada was placed into Group H, alongside powerhouses Lithuania (seed 6), Australia (seed 11), and Senegal (seed 37). An early choice at the group of death (why does there always have to be one?), only two teams from Group H will advance at the World Cup. Lithuania boasts stars like Jonas Valanciunas and Domantas Sabonis, whose size and scoring touch will be difficult for Canada to counter. Australia has a sizeable pool of NBA players from which to draw, but their local depth is talented and cohesive. Australia’s strengths in that department mimic Canada’s, though they have deeper and more talented NBA prospects available to them as well.
Canada will play Australia on August 31, Lithuania on September 2, and Senegal on September 4. All the games will take place in Dongguan, China, and the games will be streamed live on DAZN. The top two teams from Group H will combine with the top two from Group H (probably France and Germany) to form a new group for the second round. If Canada finishes first or second among teams in the Americas zone, they will qualify directly for 2020’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
Canada hasn’t appeared at the FIBA Basketball World Cup since 2010, when it was the FIBA World Championship. They have played poorly in international competition before, and this draw makes the road to redemption that much more difficult. Still, if Canada was going to finish well, they had to play excellent teams at some point. Now it just has to happen earlier.