Basketball team

Canada’s senior men’s basketball team wins first two World Cup qualifying games – The Brock Press

Canadian basketball fans have long envisioned a squad filled with their best male players who, when fully assembled, have the potential to compete on the world stage. For now, the program must rely on a low-key but talented squad of non-NBA players to qualify for the 2023 FIBA ​​World Cup.

Last week, Canada beat the Bahamas in consecutive games in the first qualifying window. Playing at a neutral venue in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Canada beat the Bahamians 115-73 last Sunday, and continued with a 113-77 victory the next day.

The team was led by a team of former college stars, veterans of the National Team program, and a few players with NBA experience. The starting lineup for both games consisted of: Kyle Alexander, a 25-year-old who played one season for the Miami Heat, Kyle Wiltjer, former Kentucky Wildcat star and national team veteran, and Kenny Chery, an undersized point guard currently plays in Russia.

To complete the starting five, two mainstays of the senior team, brothers Phil and Thomas Scrubb. The Scrubb Brothers are Canadian college legends, having won five consecutive CIS (now U Sports) championships as members of the Carleton Ravens. Despite all the turnover in the roster over the years, one or both brothers still find their place in the Canadian roster, and their veteran leadership is especially valuable in this volatile qualifying format.

Other members of the team included Anthony Bennett, the former No.1 pick in the NBA Draft, AJ Lawson, a former South Carolina Gamecocks star player, and Kadre Gray, the two-time men’s basketball player. of the year U Sports. The team was coached by current Toronto Raptors assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren.

It was Wiltjer who led the way in Canada’s two wins. The 6’10 rangey forward had 23 points on Sunday, followed by a 25-point performance on Monday. Scoring machine Aaron Best added 21 off the bench on Sunday, while explosive Kassius Robertson scored 15 the next day.

Canada’s two games against the Bahamas weren’t the only qualifiers to take place this week. Buckle up, because it will get complicated.

FIBA’s qualifying system, which debuted ahead of the 2019 World Cup in China, includes six qualifying windows with teams competing between two and three times during each window. The November 2020 window was the first of six, and the winning and losing record as well as point differentials carry over to future qualifying windows.

Canada, in the FIBA ​​Americas qualifying group, currently leads its four-team group (Group C) with a 2-0 record and a +78 point differential thanks to two resounding wins. The Dominican Republic are in second with a 2-0 record and a +66 point differential, and the US Virgin Islands and Bahamas round out the bottom half of the four-team squad.

The next qualifying window for these teams will run from February 21 to March 1, 2022, when Canada faces the Dominican Republic and the US Virgin Islands. After the third qualifying window in July 2022, the top three teams from each group (four in number) will cross over to form two new groups, along with the top two teams in fourth place.

These new groups will then play in three more qualifying windows, where the top three teams from both groups, as well as the best fourth teams will qualify for the 2023 World Cup. The same format is applied to the FIBA ​​Europe, FIBA ​​tranches. Africa and FIBA ​​Asia / Oceania. Currently, the only teams qualified for the World Cup are Japan and Indonesia, who will co-host the tournament in August 2023.

Canada will aim to qualify for its second consecutive World Cup, after a poor 21st place in 2019.

The road seems long for Canada, and the idea of ​​having a different group of players during each qualifying window is not ideal, especially when those windows fall in the middle of the NBA season when top talent such as Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and others will not be available. Yet establishing a core of players is essential to Canada’s success as a national team.

“We need to create a core team for our male and female (teams) that we can count on, and then we need to invest in training, first class travel and the development of those teams so that they can be as ready as possible. to win on the world stage, ”said Canada Basketball President and CEO Michael Bartlett in a recent interview.

The Women’s National Team has achieved impressive results in recent years and is currently ranked No.4 in the most recent FIBA ​​rankings. On the men’s side, they just didn’t have the buy-in of women, despite their wealth of talent. The men’s team is currently ranked No.18 and unfortunately did not qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Continuity will be the key to building an international competitor, and while these qualifying windows certainly breed the opposite of continuity, they are an important step on Canada’s road to finally becoming a threat on the FIBA ​​stage. .