While Canada hasn’t exactly been awash in success nationally at international men’s basketball, this summer, opportunity is knocking loudly for a return to some measure of prominence. Head Coach Jay Triano has four current NBA players on his roster in Joel Anthony (HEAT), Cory Joseph (Spurs), Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers) and Andrew Nicholson (Magic) and while his best players are young, still learning the FIBA rules or not available this summer – Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Kelly Olynyk (Celtics) and Anthony Bennett (Cavaliers) – Canada is one of the favorites to finish in the top four at the 2013 FIBA Americas in Caracas, Venezuela.
It has been well over a decade since Canada won Bronze at the FIBA Americas tournament in 2001 and Silver in 1999, but the future looks bright for this upstart team and that future could kick off with a big finish less than two weeks from now.
FIBA Americas has two pools of five teams each and the preliminary round is almost complete with Canada in second place in pool A at 2-1. The top four teams in pool A move on to play the top four teams in pool B starting on Thursday September 5 and play four games in four days with the points accumulated in games against the teams moving on in your pool included the second round standings. The eight teams in the second round will be competing for one of the top four spots that automatically qualify them for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
At 2-1, Canada has already qualified for the second round, however, the remaining preliminary round game against Uruguay (1-1) on Tuesday is very important as that game will likely count in the second round final standings.
With their relatively inexperienced roster, Canada probably should not have been considered a favorite to make the medal round this summer. However, not everyone at this tournament is putting their best possible team on the court. Just like Canada is missing three players they would really like to have, other countries are missing some of their star players as well.
It appears Jamaica will not have the services of the Pacers All-Star center Roy Hibbert for the foreseeable future.
Venezuela lost Greivis Vasquez to ankle surgery earlier in the summer.
Brazil is missing Nene, Tiago Splitter and Anderson Varejao. Also absent is Leandro Barbosa who been one of this team’s top players for years.
Argentina is pretty much relying on Luis Scola. Guards Pablo Prigioni, Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino are all missing.
Dominican Republic doesn’t have the services of Al Horford or Head Coach John Calipari plus Charlie Villanueva was cut from the team last summer by Calipari.
Opportunity is knocking for Canada at the 2013 FIBA Americas. Even without some of the top international players participating in this tournament, Canada Basketball can still gain a lot of recognition by finishing in the top four and qualifying for the 2014 World Cup next summer.
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.
You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors