Coach Nick Nurse, and Canada men’s basketball team unveiled the roster invites this past Thursday.
This will be the group of guys they’ll potentially be fielding for the upcoming Olympic qualifying tournament set to take place June 24-July 4.
The roster was released two days after Golden State star Andrew Wiggins made the decision to commit to playing for the national team. The 26 year old hasn’t played for Team Canada in any competition since the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship.
Joining him will be a diverse group of players, primarily from the NBA, but with some coming from overseas leagues and the NCAA. Some of the big names likely to stand out at the tourney are players like RJ Barrett (New York Knicks), Khem Birch (Toronto Raptors), Luguentz Dort (Oklahoma City Thunder), and Kelly Olynyk (Houston Rockets).
Unfortunately a few key players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chris Boucher will be sitting out this tournament. Gilgeous-Alexander and Boucher are both nursing an injury. This follows the unfortunate loss of Jamal Murray, star guard for the Denver Nuggets, to an ACL tear.
The group certainly has potential, but will still face a tough road ahead. In the qualifying tournament, some serious competition stands in their way, with a match against Greece and Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo as the main card bout.
The team won’t have too much time to practice as a unit before they get to work, as many are still playing in high-stress playoff games.
“The biggest thing: can we learn and execute a small package at a super high level?” said coach Nick Nurse in a press conference. “Can we fit the team together, chemistry-wise, get some connectivity in a short amount of time?”
These questions will be answered and more as Canada hopes to secure their first Olympic berth since 2000.
Sources: CBC.CA, SPORTSNET.CA, SPORTS.YAHOO.COM, NBA.COM