Canada's final roster for Basketball World Cup features two NBA players

Aug 30 2019, 12:19 pm

Canada is ready to go for the Basketball World Cup.

Following a series of tune-up games in Australia, Canada announced its final roster for the World Cup, which begins Saturday in China.

The list of players is a far cry from the training camp roster Canada Basketball announced last month, but it does include two NBA players.

For various reasons, most of Canada’s best NBA players have chosen to sit out this tournament. Orlando Magic big man Khem Birch and Sacramento Kings point guard Cory Joseph will lead an underdog group in China, with an Olympic berth on the line.

Joseph’s participation in the tournament has been uncertain for weeks, as he skipped Canada’s exhibition schedule in Australia. Miami Heat centre Kelly Olynyk, who always answers the call for Canada, will have to skip the tournament after suffering an injury during a game against Nigeria on August 7.

Another casualty from exhibition play was Raptors forward Oshae Brissett, who will miss the tournament with a knee injury.

Along with Joseph and Birch, Canada’s roster includes nine players that play professionally in Europe, plus Florida Gators guard Andrew Nembhard.

Name Position Height Previous / Current Club
Khem Birch Centre 6’9” Orlando Magic
Melvin Ejim Forward 6’6″ Baloncesto Málaga (Spain)
Brady Heslip Guard 6’2” Istanbul BBSK (Turkey)
Cory Joseph Guard 6’3″ Sacramento Kings
Kaza Kajami-Keane Guard 6’2” Mitteldeutscher BC (Germany)
Owen Klassen Centre 6’10” Antwerp Giants (Belgium)
Conor Morgan Forward 6’9” Divina Seguros Joventut (Spain)
Andrew Nembhard Guard 6’5” Florida Gators (NCAA)
Kevin Pangos Guard 6’2” FC Barcelona Basketball (Spain)
Phil Scrubb Guard 6’4″ Club Estudiantes (Spain)
Thomas Scrubb Forward 6’7” SIG Strasbourg (France)
Kyle Wiltjer Forward 6’10” Turk Telekom (Turkey)

The team’s biggest star is their head coach, Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors, who could be a difference-maker for this group.

“Playing for your country is one of the greatest honours in sport and the players are fully committed to giving everything they have for Canada,” said Nurse. “I’m proud of the group of players we’ve selected to represent Canada at the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup.”

Canada finished exhibition play with a 4-3 record, splitting games with Nigeria and Australia, in addition to racking up a pair of wins against New Zealand and a loss to USA.

Competing in a difficult Group H, Canada will play Australia (September 1), Lithuania (September 3), and Senegal (September 5) in the first round. They need to finish first or second in their group to advance to the second round.

Canada can qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics with a first- or second-place finish among countries in the Americas zone. Our men’s basketball team hasn’t participated in the Olympics since Steve Nash led Canada to the Sydney 2000 Games.

Should Canada fail to earn an Olympic berth directly from the World Cup, they could get a second chance next summer, as the graphic below illustrates.

world cup fiba

How Canada can qualify for the 2020 Olympics in men’s basketball (FIBA)

You can catch all of Canada’s World Cup games through online streaming service DAZN:

  • Sun, Sep 1: Canada vs Australia, 12:30 am PT / 3:30 am ET
  • Tue, Sep 3: Canada vs Lithuania, 4:30 am PT / 7:30 am ET
  • Thu, Sep 5: Canada vs Senegal, 12:30 am PT / 3:30 am ET