View this post on Instagram View this post on Instagram Of the 6️⃣ qualifying windows, what was your favorite one for 🍁 @CanadaBasketball ? #FIBAWCA post shared by FIBA Basketball World Cup (@fibawc) on Mar 7, 2019 at 9:02am PSTStep one is done. Now the most important task for Canada is finishing the job. A podium finish is expected for the Canadians. With all the NBA talent, world-class coaching and the infrastructure put in place by Nash and Barrett.Much is expected in the great white north where ice hockey is king, and basketball continues to be the little brother trying to get attention.It’s will be a tough hill to climb as history hasn’t been kind to Canada at previous World Cups. Team Canada has lost 14 of their last 16 in World Cup competition. They’ve lost 63 overall games, most in World Cup history. They’ve qualified for 14 World Cup, never finishing in the top four — that’s the most appearances at the World Cup without a top-four finish of all-time.What most Canadians fans are hoping is that all those numbers won’t matter and by the end of this year’s World Cup they’ll simply be memories of the past and demonstrations of how far the hockey-crazed nation has come on the hardwood.Simply put, this is not only Canada’s best chance at contending for a medal at a major competition, but it’s Canada’s best chance at giving the “golden era” its golden moment.The potential of fielding a roster with the likes of Joseph, Birch, Brooks, Powell, Olynyk, Andrew Wiggins, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and R.J. Barrett could help the game grow even further than it has in Canada. The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China is nothing short of a legacy builder for the game and for long-lasting memories for future Canadian basketballers. “I remember I was a little kid watching Steve Nash, Rowan (Barrett) and all those guys play in the 2000 Sydney Olympics,” Olynyk continued.“I vividly remember that, being in my living room with my dad and my family and watching them play.“That’s something that I want kids in Canada and the next generation to be able to do as well.” FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Groups are IN! The #WorldGotGame! #FIBAWC starts on August 31 2019!A post shared by FIBA Basketball World Cup (@fibawc) on Mar 16, 2019 at 5:00am PDTIn qualifying, Canada was consistently one of the most impressive teams in the Americas. The world saw a glimpse of Canada’s potential as NBAers Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks), Dillon Brooks (Memphis Grizzlies), Khem Birch (Orlando Magic), Cory Joseph (Indiana Pacers), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Kelly Olynyk (Miami Heat) all suited up for at least one game during the Americas Qualifiers.“It’s always important to give back to your country in any way that you can,” Olynyk told FIBA media.“It’s a very prideful thing to be able to put on a Canadian jersey and wear the red and white. It’s something that you grew up watching and dreaming of and wanting. The Olympics is a goal of mine for sure and I think a lot of the guys I’ve played with — that’s what we are striving for as a country…to get back to that level.”36 different players overall eventually helped Canada punched its ticket to the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China. A credit to their depth and the willingness from the players to want to participate.It’s the fruits of the labours of Steve Nash and Rowan Barrett who took over the program in 2012. Just two years before, Canada had flamed out of the World Championships (as the FIBA Basketball World Cup was known then) in Turkey failing to win a single game.Their first summer in charge, Nash and Barrett spent time contacting and building relationships with those who would eventually suit up for the Senior Men’s team. Three years later Nash stood in front of the media saying that basketball in Canada was in its “golden age”.Canada blitzed through the first half of the Americas Qualifiers, falling only once to a tough and veteran Dominican Republic side. The second phase, they remained as dominant as any team in the Americas up until they ran into a game Venezuelan side in a hostile environment. The 84-76 loss to Venezuela and the ensuing matchup against Brazil in Sao Paulo was the first time any doubt had crept into the minds of Canadian fans. Until that point in the Qualifiers, making the FIBA Basketball World Cup was all but guaranteed.A deep and willing talent pool, world-class coaching and veteran leadership in the form of two-time NBA Champion Joel Anthony, there wasn’t much that could go wrong.After the loss to Venezuela, it was revealed that the team’s travel to Caracas had been less than ideal. 30-plus hours in transit, sleeping in airports and then having to play against a hungry, stingy home side proved to be too tough for the Canadians.Venezuela had been a thorn in Canada’s side before, defeating them by one point in the 2015 Americas Qualifiers, stealing Canada’s spot at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.Canada had to put all that history and heartbreak behind them and go out and get a win in Sao Paulo — the same country they were denied an opportunity at Olympic Gold in. In a gutsy effort, the Canadians came away with a 94-67 win and secured a spot in China.Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dwight Powell, who’s already said he’s 100 percent committed to the team this summer thinks the credit for Canada’s future success should to go to all 36 players — even though many of them won’t play in China.“I think at the end of the day the way that the FIBA system is set up currently, the heroes are all the people that put in time,” Powell told FIBA Media. “Whether that’s guys who are in the NBA or whether that’s guys who are playing in Europe or Canada.“I think everyone had to make sacrifices with this new system. There’s going to be guys that contributed a great deal that won’t necessarily be on the box score of the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not a part of the National Team.“That doesn’t mean they’re not a part of what we are trying to build as a nation. I think we’ve done a great job of building a grassroots program in our country over the last couple of generations and I think we’re starting to reap the benefits of that now.” No nation other than the United States can field more NBA talent than the Canadians at this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup.But following the FIBA Basketball World Cup live draw, where it was announced that the Canadians will be up against Australia, Lithuania and Senegal in the opening round, there will be tough games right from the outset.
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