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Canadian team depleted for OQT
by rick olivares pic from raptorsrepublic.com
It looks like France isn’t the only team that is going to be missing key players.
Team Canada, bracketed by Senegal and Turkey in Group A, has taken a massive hit with the pulling out of NBA stars like Anthony Bennett (Toronto Raptors), Andrew Nicholson (Orlando Magic), Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks), Nik Stauskas (Philadelphia 76ers), and Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves).
According to a report in the Toronto Star by writer Doug Smith last June 11, team manager Steve Nash and head coach Jay Triano are struggling to put together a competitive team. Smith implied that the no show by the basketball stars was due to commitment, contract concerns, and desire.
France’s NBA cadre has taken a hit as well with Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets), Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic), Ian Mahinmi (Indiana Pacers), and Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz) opting out.
Canada will still have the services of Toronto Raptors’ guard Corey Joseph, Detroit Pistons forward Joel Anthony, and Boston Celtics forward-center Kelly Olynyk but the big man is still recuperating from post-season surgery and isn’t anywhere near match fitness. Triano will also have to rely on a couple of pro players who ply their trade in Europe such as Levon Kendall who plays for Movistar Estudiantes in the Spanish Liga ACB, guard Brady Heslip who suits up for Pallacanestro Cantu in the Lega Basket Serie A in Italy, point guard Philip Scrubb who suits up Skyliners Frankfurt in Germany, and forward Thomas Scrubb who plays for the Giessen 46ers also in Germany.
Nash was quoted as saying, “We do have guys who’ve played a ton of European basketball and have experience that we didn’t have last summer, but obviously it’s still really early and we’re trying to find a team.”
Canada opens its Olympic Qualifying campaign versus Turkey on July 5 then plays Senegal the day after.
All the matches will be played at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The semifinals will be played on July 9 with the finals the day after. Only the winner of the qualifiers will be allowed to participate in the Rio Olympics.