Canada’s men’s basketball team will not be playing at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio after another do-or-die qualification loss in consecutive summers.
Playing in Manila against highly-ranked France, Canada couldn’t keep control of the talented French side en route to an 83-74 loss in the tournament finale.
Cory Joseph was again the high-scorer for Canada with 20 points, completing the tournament leading the team in scoring every game.
“We weren’t able to get it done but we fought hard and I’m proud of my guys,” said Joseph at the post-game press conference.
“Being the youngest team here is a good growing experience for us, we’re going to keep getting better,” added head coach Jay Triano. “We’ve got some great talent in our country and I appreciate the sacrifices our players made and it was unfortunate we couldn’t get the win and have these guys rewarded with becoming Olympians.”
For France’s Tony Parker, another shot at the Olympics is likely his last with the veteran guard now 34 years old and he showed he wanted that chance coming up big in the fourth quarter to finish with 26 points after averaging just nine through the tournament.
In the fourth quarter with just over two minutes left and the two teams trading punches, Tony Parker caught a pass, faked his former San Antonio Spurs protégée Cory Joseph before stepping back into a three-pointer that gave France a decisive 73-66 lead.
“He’s one of my mentors I learned a lot from him,” said Joseph of the elder French guard. “I was excited for the game, preparing for it, having to sit on the bench and watch him for a long time to try to get revenge or use the things he taught me against him.”
Canada won the rebounding battle and scored more points in the paint but once again struggled to hit the long ball, shooting 37% on the night but missing many attempts that should have opened up the floor. Brady Heslip and Phil Scrubb never quite found the touch and Melvin Ejim was the surprise distance threat hitting all four of his three-point shots.
Ejim was a bright spot throughout the tournament for Canada as he looks to find his way onto an NBA roster for next season. He finished with an efficient 19 points and three rebounds.
His presence and the defensive efforts of Thomas Scrubb nearly negated the loss of Andrew Wiggins and Nik Stauskas who fans were quick to blame for Canada’s loss after they declined spots on the national team this summer, left wondering what a full team could have accomplished.
Former Raptor and French guard Nando De Colo scored 22 in the win and was named tournament MVP, Parker scored 26 and France got important contributions from NBA players Nic Batum and Boris Diaw.
Still France missed a few NBA players from their roster and both teams were playing somewhat shorthanded, happy for any players that could make it.
“When you can ask a guy like Cory who went to the third round and Tristan who went to the Finals and the Championship it means a lot for our country,” said Triano.
Canada basketball’s only losses this summer are to Croatia and France who are both olympic bound. The talent level is still rising but it’s not there yet.