Canada drawn into tough World Cup group with Lithuania, Australia and Senegal – Cloverdale Reporter

Canada drawn into tough World Cup group with Lithuania, Australia and Senegal - Cloverdale Reporter
Canada draws Lithuania, Australia in FIBA Basketball World Cup
Canadas R. J. Barrett celebrates a basket against the Dominican Republic during their FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifier game in Toronto, June 29, 2018. (Mark Blinch/CP)

After a successful first-place run at the FIBA America’s tournament, Canada booked its first ticket to the FIBA Baketball World Cup since 2010.

Canada was placed into Group H, alongside powerhouses Lithuania (seed 6), Australia (seed 11), and Senegal (seed 37). An early choice at the group of death (why does there always have to be one?), only two teams from Group H will advance at the World Cup. Lithuania boasts stars like Jonas Valanciunas and Domantas Sabonis, whose size and scoring touch will be difficult for Canada to counter. Australia has a sizeable pool of NBA players from which to draw, but their local depth is talented and cohesive. Australia’s strengths in that department mimic Canada’s, though they have deeper and more talented NBA prospects available to them as well.

And now, following the World Cup draw that took place on Saturday, we know which group they have been placed in.

Canada will play Australia on August 31, Lithuania on September 2, and Senegal on September 4. All the games will take place in Dongguan, China, and the games will be streamed live on DAZN. The top two teams from Group H will combine with the top two from Group H (probably France and Germany) to form a new group for the second round. If Canada finishes first or second among teams in the Americas zone, they will qualify directly for 2020’s Tokyo Olympic Games.

Canada (FIBA rank: 23) will compete in Group H at the tournament, which begins on August 31st in Beijing, China.

After finishing 0-5 at the World Cup in their lone appearance in the last 12 years, the senior men’s national team will be playing for more than just pride and continuing their recent stretch of great results — there’s also a potential Olympic berth to be had.

With 7 automatic bids up for grabs (Japan, the host nation of the 2020 Tokyo Games, has already qualified), Canada will have a shot at returning to the Olympics for the first time since the Sydney Games in 2000.

Australian Boomers drawn in Group H for 2019 FIBA World Cup, will likely be challenged early

Qualifying for an Olympic bid via the World Cup won’t be easy, with limited spots up for grabs. But the tournament also determine which countries will compete in the Olympic qualifiers in early 2020.

"Each one of [Canada's opponents] was first in their group so they've clearly been performing well," Barrett said. "I think it's good that [the draw] was this far out, it gives us the opportunity to look within our depth pool as we form our team to counteract the strengths of the other teams.

But for now, the national team program will have its eyes set on China later this summer with a chance to build off a successful calendar year for the senior men’s team and an opportunity to climb the ladder in international basketball.

"I think that it was important to look internally first," he said. "Nobody is going to have more familiarity with our players than our coaches, and we've had three head coaches in the windows coach us. So you start by looking there and have each share their vision and their plan.

Canada might have been drawn into arguably the toughest group for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, but Rowan Barrett isnt complaining.

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With a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the line, Canadas mens basketball team will face No. 6-ranked Lithuania, No. 11 Australia and 37th-ranked Senegal in Group H of the tournament, Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 in China.

For the first time ever the top seven teams from the FIBA Basketball World Cup will earn direct qualification to the Olympics. For Canada to qualify directly to the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 via the FIBA Basketball World Cup they must finish as one of the top two teams from the Americas zone. The U.S.A, Argentina, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic are the other six teams that have qualified for the World Cup from the Americas zone.

“I dont think that as hard as we have worked to get to the World Cup that we will now complain about the draw,” said Barrett, Canada Basketballs general manager of the mens program.

The top two teams in each group advance, and carry their records to the next round. The bottom two teams are bumped to the consolation side of the draw.

“Each one of (Canadas opponents) was first in their group so theyve clearly been performing well,” Barrett said. “I think its good that (the draw) was this far out, it gives us the opportunity to look within our depth pool as we form our team to counteract the strengths of the other teams.

If Canada advances to the championship side of the 32-country draw, it will face the best two in Group G of France, Germany, Dominican Republic and Jordan. The top two teams from each group then advance to the quarter-finals.

Canada hasnt had a team in the World Cup since a disastrous 22nd-place finish in 2010 in Turkey, where the team went 0-5.

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Theres plenty on the line this time around for a Canadian team on the rise. The top seven clubs in China will punch their tickets to the Olympics, where Canadas mens squad hasnt played since 2000 in Sydney.

The Olympic field features just 12 teams, and so Japan as host takes one of the five remaining spots, with the final four awarded at a last-chance qualifying event in 2020.

If Canadas NBA players suit up, they could put forward a line-up that includes Jamal Murray, Cory Joseph, Andrew Wiggins, and Tristan Thompson, among a host of others. That team would pose a threat to a Boomers team that boasts significant NBA credentials of its own, from Patty Mills, to Joe Ingles, and Aron Baynes.

The Canadians will open against Australia. Canada hasnt faced the Aussies in world championship action since 1998 — an 88-71 loss — and is 3-2 all-time against them.

It is unclear how the Australian lineup will look, with Ben Simmons having not yet committed to playing in China, while Dante Exums recent knee injury could see him sidelined for the tournament. The Boomers still have a wealth of NBA talnet at their disposal, with the likes of Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz), Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs), Aron Baynes (Boston Celtics), Jonah Bolden (Philadelphia 76ers), Thon Maker (Detroit Pistons), Ryan Broekhoff (Dallas Mavericks), Matthew Dellavedova and Deng Adel (Cleveland Cavaliers) in the mix for the tournament.

Theyll play Lithuania, a team theyve faced only once in the world championships — a 70-68 loss in 2010.

The Canadians will wrap up the preliminary round versus Senegal, against whom theyre 2-0 — most recently a 70-57 win in 1998.

For the first time, the top seven teams from the FIBA Basketball World Cup will qualify for next years Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Australia must finish as the top team of the Oceania Zone, ahead of New Zealand to receive automatic qualification.

Barretts next step is to hire a head coach, and he expects to have that person in place by the end of March. Canada, which went 10-2 in qualifying, used three head coaches for its dozen games: Jay Triano, Roy Rana, and Gord Herbert.

If Australia makes it through Group H, they will likely face Germany and France, who will likely be led by Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), Tony Parker (Charlotte Hornets), Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets) and Evan Fournier (Orlando Magic).

“I think that it was important to look internally first,” he said. “Nobody is going to have more familiarity with our players than our coaches, and weve had three head coaches in the windows coach us. So you start by looking there and have each share their vision and their plan.

“At the same time its important with our athletes, and the sacrifice our athletes have shown, and the growth and development in their games, theyre working hard and they want every chance to win that they can have. So its incumbent upon us that were evaluating our whole program, whether its our analytics department, our medical staff, our therapy team, all of it, as well as our coaching to ensure were putting our best foot forward to lead the group.”