Canada’s chance to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in men’s basketball just got a big boost.
Looking for their first Olympic berth in 20 years, Canada Basketball announced it will host a last-chance qualifying tournament in Victoria this June.
The 7,000-seat Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre will be the venue for the six-day international basketball tournament, taking place June 23-28.
By hosting the tournament, Basketball Canada executives should have an easier time convincing top NBA players to participate. That’s something they struggled to do for the FIBA World Cup in China this past summer, as Cory Joseph and Khem Birch were the only NBA players to put on the Maple Leaf.
“Being able to host a FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament at home is a great opportunity for our team on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” said Canada Basketball President and CEO Glen Grunwald in a media release. “On behalf of Canada Basketball, I’d like to extend thanks to Clint Hamilton for his leadership with the Victoria FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament bid. This is sure to be a week-long celebration that fans of basketball in Greater Victoria, and across our great country, won’t ever forget.”
The Victoria tournament is one of four men’s basketball Olympic qualifying tournaments that will take place around the world, with the winner of each joining previously qualified countries Argentina, Australia, Spain, France, Iran, Nigeria, USA, and Japan in Tokyo. Other qualifying tournaments will be hosted in Croatia, Lithuania, and Serbia.
The official draw ceremony will take place on November 27 to decide which five other countries will compete in Victoria. The draw will divide qualified teams from the five FIBA regions into geographically balanced groups.
The four qualifying tournaments will include the 16 best-placed non-qualified teams from the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the two highest-ranked countries per region in the FIBA world rankings. Canada is currently ranked 21st in the world but has the potential to be one of the world’s very best — depending on who suits up.
Just as he did for the World Cup, Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse will once again lead this squad.
While Andrew Wiggins was quick to decline another invitation last summer, Jamal Murray and RJ Barrett did attend training camp in Toronto — despite opting out of playing.
Canada always seems to be able to rely on Kamloops’ Kelly Olynyk, who was injured during a World Cup tune-up game last summer and will surely accept an invite to play in his home province.
Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks recently stated his intent to play in the tournament, telling NBA.com: “I plan on being there. I plan on playing regardless of if I get a contract or whatever happens.
“I’m going to play for Team Canada because you know I missed out this year and I really want to play and make it to the Olympics. It’s something in my basketball career that I want to do — wear that red and white. It’s going to be a special year for us in Canada.”
Ticket information and the schedule for the event will be announced soon.