Canadian men’s basketball team on course to qualify for World Cup
The Canadian men’s basketball team is already set to play for next fall.
A win over Argentina in World Cup qualifying left Canada 7-0 in the long process to qualify for next year’s world championship, and it would take a collapse of biblical proportions. so that Canada does not get away with it.
The top three teams from each current group of six qualify for FIBA Americas, as does the fourth-place team with the best record.
Canada leads its group, and the best fourth-place team is now 5-2 (Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil); it will probably only take two wins in the last four qualifying games to secure a place.
Canada’s next game is Monday in Panama (8 p.m., Sportsnet). Next, Canada will host Venezuela and Panama on November 10 and 13, at venues yet to be determined, and finish in Argentina and Venezuela in February.
But qualifications alone are not enough. Canada needs to rack up the wins and finish as high in the standings as possible to earn a more favorable World Cup draw.
“What I preached as important is that the better results we have and the higher we finish in this part of the thing, the more seeds we should have,” coach Nick Nurse said this week.
Monday against Panama 2-5, Canada will have a significantly different line-up to the one that beat Argentina 99-87 in Victoria on Thursday night.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and his cousin Nickeil Walker-Alexander won’t be making the trip, and family obligations will prevent Cory Joseph from playing.
The absence of Gilgeous-Alexander – the Oklahoma City Thunder, having lost second draft pick Chet Holmgren for the season to an off-season injury, would prefer the 24-year-old not play – will be difficult for Canada.
Gilgeous-Alexander became the leader of this iteration of the Canadian team and its best player, and led Canada with 23 points against Argentina.
To replace the departing NBAers, Canada will draw from its pool of European and minor league pros to complete the roster in Panama. And since no NBA players will be available for the November and February qualifying windows, it’s important to gain experience for second-tier players.
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