Canadian men’s and women’s national teams advance towards FIBA World Cups

The women have qualified for the 2022 FIBA World Cup, while the men advanced to the second stage of qualifiers for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

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Photo courtesy of FIBA

The Canadian men’s senior national basketball team improved to a record of 4-0 in FIBA World Cup 2023 Qualifiers over the weekend, with back-to-back wins over the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands, automatically advancing them to the second stage of qualifiers.

Meanwhile, the Canadian women booked their place in the 2022 FIBA World Cup earlier this February.

The following is a recap of everything you need to know about the Canadian men’s and women’s national basketball teams, including their journeys to their respective FIBA World Cups and, hopefully, to 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The men

The Canadian men secured a tight win over the second-place Dominican Republic and a blowout win over U.S. Virgin Islands in the Dominican Republic this past weekend, pushing them atop Group C with 8 points and a +132 net rating. It’s enough to automatically advance them to the second stage of qualifiers regardless of what happens in their next two qualifying matches in July (also against the Dominican Republic and U.S. Virgin Islands in a location to be determined; potentially in Canada).

Still, the Canadians will want to continue their winning ways, as wins and point differential matter in the FIBA qualifier format. After their next two matches in July, the three best teams from group C will merge with the three best teams from Group A (Argentina, Venezuela, Panama and Paraguay) to form Group E for the second stage, where Canada will play the Group A teams twice each over windows in August, November and February, 2023.

With records from the first stage carrying over, the three best teams from each second-stage group, as well as the best fourth-place team (for a total of seven teams from the Americas), will then qualify for the 2023 World Cup in Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines. It’s there that Canada would have a chance to qualify outright for the 2024 Paris Olympics without the need for a last chance qualifying tournament, an event that they have had too many heartbreaking losses to count in recent years and will want to avoid outright. In total, seven teams will qualify for the 2024 Games in Paris via the World Cup.

That’s why this past weekend was so important, as the “winter team,” full of Canadians playing in Europe or elsewhere (but not the NBA), was a dominant force, putting Canada in a comfortable lead atop their group. They have set up the “summer team,” which should be full of NBA talent (I just wrong a big feature on Canadians in the NBA and the state of Canada Basketball, if you want to check it out), really well to come to finish the first stage of qualifiers in July before beginning the second stage in August, after which time they will again pass the baton back to the “winter team” to finish off the World Cup qualifying in November and February of 2023.

While many fans of Canada Basketball only know the biggest NBA names, there are so many athletes (and coaches) who sacrifice their time for the country, stepping away from their club teams and families to represent Canada in qualifiers. That was the case this past weekend, when a team led by Kyle Wiltjer, Thomas and Phil Scrubb, Kyle Alexander and coached by Nate Bjorken and Nathaniel Mitchell played great team-basketball and continued to develop chemistry together in back-to-back wins.

The women

The Victor LaPena era is off to a good start, as the new coach of the Canadian national women’s basketball team officially clinched a spot in the 2022 FIBA World Cup with a dominant 96-64 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in a qualifying tournament in Osaka, Japan in early February. Bridget Carleton scored 28 points and Natalie Achonwa added 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists to power Canada to victory.

“My players played amazing today,” LaPena said. “Just to see their faces once the game finished, for me, was the most important. Everybody is happy, we qualified for the World Cup by ourselves, this is very very important. The passion, the energy they put on the court was enough to compete.”

The Canadian went 1-1 in the tournament, with an overtime loss to Japan, but it was enough to qualify them for the World Cup nonetheless.

The Women’s World Cup, which is also qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics, opens on September 22nd in Sydney, Australia, when the women will hope to improve on their disappointing 7th place finish from the 2018 FIBA World Cup and 9th place finish at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The draw for the World Cup will take place tomorrow, March 3rd. You can watch it here.

While the men are the ones who get most of the shine, the Canadian women are also in a golden age of their own, with Bridget Carleton, Natalie Achonwa, Kia Nurse and youngster Laeticia Amihere leading the way, along with tons of young talent in the NCAA, where 27 Canadians played in the D1 tournament last year and even more are projected to in March of this year.

It’s a great time to be a fan of basketball in Canada, with both the men and women advancing to the next stages in their respective FIBA World Cups. We can only hope that the NBA players will show up this summer on the men’s side and that we will see both the men’s and women’s teams compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics for the first time since 2000.

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