Team Canada took care of business in Puerto Rico, finishing 4-0 at the Tuto Marchand Cup and more importantly, gaining the needed experience entering into the FIBA Americas, Olympic qualifier.
“I think we’re in a pretty good space right now but it doesn’t matter what we did in this tournament, it all starts next week,” Head Coach Jay Triano told media after the win against Puerto Rico.
The team has shown positive signs from their depth as a collective, star power in Andrew Wiggins, leadership in Cory Joseph, to their defensive capabilities during key moments.
However, as Triano expressed, the first real game for Canada is September 1 against Argentina to open the FIBA Americas tournament.
Canada defeated Argentina 85-80 less than a week ago, but the stakes will be much higher this time around as both teams will play to their full strength.
Canada Starving for Olympic Berth
To put things into perspective, Canada hasn’t qualified for Olympic Basketball since 2000–a team that was composed of current General Manager Steve Nash and Executive Vice President / Ast GM Rowan Barrett, with Head Coach Jay Triano on the sidelines.
The 2000 team, that ultimately finished seventh at the Olympics had a total of two NBA players–Steve Nash and Todd MacCulloch
15 years later Canada Basketball is rich in talent, fielding a team with the second-most NBA players (8), behind U.S.A.
The expectation is that Canada qualifies for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, where the country can truly shine on the international stage, with some experience under their belt as a collective, a year of individual growth, and the possibility of adding Tristan Thompson and Jamal Murray into the fold.
In the meantime, Canada is in prime position to take advantage of the opportunity ahead.
The Olympic qualifier begins August 31, with 10 teams participating, and two spots available in the big show.
USA and Brazil have already punched their tickets due to their position as World Champion and Olympic host.
In other words, Canada must have a top-two finish (not including Brazil) in order to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
The real test for Canada Basketball begins in Mexico City.