While the Toronto Raptors Cory Joseph was still fighting to advance in the NBA playoffs he told Pro Bball Report that he would be representing Canada this summer with the hope of qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Joseph has been there every summer for Team Canada since he was a teenager and he’s arguably been their best player over the past three years. He dreams of bringing the team back to the glory days when Steve Nash took Canada Basketball to the world stage.
It isn’t going to be easy however. There are even fewer NBA players on Team Canada’s preliminary roster than last summer when they just missed qualifying for Rio and this time hope primarily rests on Joseph and the FIBA veterans as reported by Canada Basketball.
“Given the time of year, player availability is always changing. We’re continuing to talk to teams and players may become available as the summer progresses,” said Steve Nash, general manager, men’s national team. “Playing for your country is an honour, we have a deep pool of talent who are committed to playing for Canada and we’re ready to get to work.”
It was inexperience that crushed Canada’s hopes of qualifying in Mexico last year and the team faces many of those same obstacles again. They have enough talent to be competitive, but they’ll have to beat France in the qualifying tournament to advance as reported on FIBA.com
As for Joseph, he recalled: “It was frustrating as we had maybe our worst game of the tournament at the worst moment. Venezuela outplayed us. In this kind of competition, every team is talented and plays with a lot of passion. It was disappointing not to reach the gold medal and clinch a direct spot to Rio. Now, our minds are focused on Manilla. We got to fight for our lives to get a spot to the Olympic tournament.”
“Everyone has the same dream of going to Rio and every game is going to be very competitive. France and Turkey have a lot of experience, but every team is going to Manilla with ambition.
“It’s going to be an exciting tournament. Tony Parker and Boris Diaw are going to be there with France too, that’s going to be an interesting experience.”
It’s a lot of pressure for a 24-year-old NBA backup point guard, but he has elevated his game with Team Canada every summer and this time the team really has no one else to turn to.
“Our talent level isn’t where we thought it might be, but it’s a great chance for these guys, and we have to be really good in a month for four games,” head coach Jay Triano said.
The Olympic dream is still alive, if only on life support, but maybe Nash can use his influence to bolster the roster before the start of the qualifying tournament in the first week of July?