String of High Profile Commitments has Canada Poised for Olympics Visit
This is their moment.
This Summer in Victoria, it will be Canada’s time to show that they belong on basketball’s world stage.
Following a Summer of disappointment, one in which a number of Canadian stars bowed out of competition for one reason of another, the National Team looks to turn the corner in what will be their final shot at qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. For Canada, it’s time to go all-in, and they plan on doing exactly that.
Thrown into a tough Group A which will be highlighted by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Greek team as well as China, the Canadians will really have no choice but to give it their all if they hope to compete for gold in 2020.
That being said, they will be playing on their home soil on the West Coast in British Columbia, but moreover, it appears as though this time around, Canada will be at full strength.
“I want to play my part to help push our team into the Olympics and compete at the highest world stage,” announced Denver Nuggets star guard Jamal Murray on his personal Twitter profile.
This past summer, Jamal Murray was sidelined by an injury and had to support from the sidelines. The FIBA Men’s OQT in June 2020 will be a different story.
“I want to play my part to help push our team into the Olympics and compete at the highest world stage.” – @BeMore27 pic.twitter.com/7fmJdPYyLW
— Canada Basketball (@CanBball) November 27, 2019
Murray’s verbal commitment to the national program was followed by similar announcements from New York Knicks rookie sensation RJ Barrett, Oklahoma City Thunder sophomore guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, New Orleans Pelicans rookie Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Dwight Powell of the Dallas Mavericks. Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies recently announced his commitment to the team as well during an exclusive interview.
“I plan on being there, I plan on playing regardless of if I get a contract or whatever happens,” Brooks said. “I’m going to play for Team Canada because, you know, I missed out this year and I really want to play and make it to the Olympics. It’s something in my basketball career that I want to do — wear that red and white. It’s going to be a special year for us in Canada.”
Canada’s Men’s team has failed to qualify for the Olympics since their last appearance in 2000 and hasn’t medaled at the games since earning silver in the inaugural Berlin Olympic Games in 1936. For reference, the NBA did not play its first official game until June of 1946.
I've known and made a promise to myself that representing my country is something I will continue to do and as my bro @BeMore27 publicly announced his commitment, I too will be there to do my best to help @CanBball get to Tokyo!
— Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (@shaiglalex) November 27, 2019
The latest string of announcements are a welcomed sighting for head coach Nick Nurse and the national program, who prior to this month have only had two NBA commitments for the upcoming Summer – Cory Joseph and Khem Birch. Emergent NBA big man Chris Boucher who is enjoying a breakout campaign with the Toronto Raptors appears to be another lock to join the team in Victoria come the qualification round.
This pushes the roster count to nine NBA players, which will more than likely eventually include Tristan Thompson and Kelly Olynyk, two national team veterans who if healthy are most certainly locks to join the team.
“It’s great to see everybody buying in and trying to do something great for our country, trying to get to Tokyo,” Barrett said in a recent interview. “I’m very excited.”
RJ Barrett says he's in for Team Canada this summer.
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) November 27, 2019
Similar to this past Summer, the excitement around the country is at a high. If the stars honour their verbal commitments, Canada will field their most star-studded roster to date in what will be the most crucial moment in the history of the program – a chance to qualify for Tokyo.
Additional names who could potentially fill the last few spots of the roster include rookies, Brandon Clarke, and Oshae Brissett, National Team regular sharpshooter Brady Heslip, and Trey Lyles. The most interesting name of all will be that of Andrew Wiggins, the 24-year old guard who has been estranged from the national program over the past couple of seasons is in the midst of a career season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Assuming Canada is able to put together it’s most dominant roster in history, the Coach Nurse could presumably be working with a team that looks something like this:
The entire country of Canada has its fingers crossed.