Canada Heads Home After Failing to Qualify for 2020 Olympics
It wasn’t the World Cup journey that the Canadians envisioned at the start of the Summer.
Definitely not what NBA champion head coach Nick Nurse foresaw coming when he initially accepted the job.
On Monday, the Canucks fell to Germany by a score of 82-76 in what was a must-win game for the Canadians. A win and they would lock down a spot in the 2020 Olympics and despite early tournament disappointment, they would be able to head home with their sights set on getting better for Tokyo. Ramping up recruitment and establishing a far better team than the one that entered into China less than two weeks ago.
“I love national team basketball. I think that there’s something really special about these guys putting it on the line for their country and giving up this time, and to me it’s the purest form of basketball we have. So I love that,” said Nurse. “I think it’s important to us to do well in (international basketball), it means a lot to our players, it means a lot to our coaches, means a lot to me personally. We’ll keep moving forward.”
Unfortunately, the Canadians failed to qualify in heartbreaking fashion, despite 18 points from Kyle Wiltjer and 15 points from Khem Birch. Canada will now be forced to fight for their Olympic lives next July and after failing to recruit enough NBA talent for the World Cup, the hopes of stacking the squad next year seems like nothing more than a dream at this point.
“I think it was a learning process,” Wiltjer said. “Obviously we came up short of our goals for this tournament, but the dream is still alive hopefully. We have a lot of bright spots from this team and a lot of guys want to represent their country. We just want to continue to get better and keep going forward.”
Despite another disappointing World Cup exit, national team executive Rowan Barrett has not plans of calling it quits.
“Obviously you always want to perform better. But really that is the most wins we’ve had in a quarter century at the World Cup,” said Canada Basketball’s general manager Rowan Barrett. .
“I think as you start your evaluation, you start with wins and losses,” Barrett added. “It looks like our goal of working to get to the Olympics is still very much there. So while you would have loved to get there straight on from here, there is still no guarantee that you can. Even if things worked out the way we wanted with every single thing this summer, I think a call here or an injury there can impact every single thing you are doing.”
With an eye out for next year, it will now be up to Barrett and Nurse to sell the program to Canada’s best players. Whether or not they can make that happen will determine Canada’s Olympics fate.