Canada Basketball/Muad Issa
Expectations are high for Team Canada’s men’s basketball team 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. With a deep and star-studded roster, they have a real shot at bringing home Canada’s first medal from this tournament. They could also book Canada’s spot for Paris 2024 and return the country to men’s Olympic basketball for the first time since Sydney 2000.
Held every four years, the FIBA Basketball World Cup showcases the world cup in men’s basketball. This year’s edition is the 19th edition since its inception in 1950. It is a multi-country event for the first time in its history as the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia will all co-host.
Whether you’re new to the FIBA World Cup or need a refresher, here’s what you need to know to attend this highly anticipated tournament for the men’s national team, which kicks off on Friday, August 25.
What is the history of the FIBA Basketball World Cup?
The FIBA Basketball World Cup is usually held every four years. Following the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the tournament was scheduled on a new four-year cycle to avoid conflict with the FIFA World Cup. Defending champions Spain won their second gold of 2019. The United States and the former Yugoslavia are tied with five gold medals each.
In 1994, when it was called the FIBA World Championship, Toronto was the first time active National Basketball Association (NBA) players could participate in the tournament. Since then, the sport has grown exponentially worldwide, with many countries having NBA players on their rosters.
Who is on Team Canada at the FIBA World Cup?
Please note: Team Canada’s final roster will be confirmed following a technical meeting shortly before the start of the tournament.
One of basketball’s brightest young stars on Canada’s extended roster is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Hamilton, Ontario. Gilgeous-Alexander was named to the All-NBA first team after averaging 31.4 points per game last season for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He joins Steve Nash as the only Canadians to hold the record.
Prior to the World Cup, Canada Basketball announced that SGA’s potential backcourt partner, Jamaal Murray of the Denver Nuggets, would not participate. After being a key contributor to the Nuggets’ first NBA title, Murray’s presence on the team was highly anticipated, but he cited his body’s need for time to recover as a reason to sit out a deep postseason run.
SGA is joined on an extended roster by fellow NBA players RJ Barrett, LeQuentz Dart, Dillon Brooks, Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell and Nikhil Alexander-Walker.
At 7-foot-4, center Zach Eddy will give the team much-needed height. He was named the Naismith College Player of the Year in NCAA Division I last season.
Three players from the extended roster — Corey Joseph, Oshe Brissett and Cassius Robertson — withdrew from consideration ahead of the tournament.
Canada will be coached by Jordi Fernandez, who made his international debut after being named head coach on June 27. Fernandez has previously worked as an assistant coach with the Spanish and Nigerian national teams. He also has NBA experience as an assistant with the Denver Nuggets and currently the Sacramento Kings.
Group Canada Expanded List
Who will Canada play in the FIBA World Cup?
Canada (ranked 15th in the world) is in Group H with France (No. 5), Latvia (No. 29), and Lebanon (No. 43). Their first round matches will be played in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Canada has no recent history with any team in its group. In fact, you have to go back to 2016 for a loss against France in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifiers. France has been a world basketball powerhouse for decades and boasts a 10-2 record in FIBA Europe World Cup qualifiers. They won the bronze medal in the 2019 World Cup.
In exhibition games prior to the World Cup, Canada won two of three matches en route to winning the DBP Super Cup in Hamburg. After dropping the first game to Germany, Canada won against New Zealand. In the tournament finale, they erased a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter and got revenge with a 113-112 victory over Germany. RJ Barrett led the way with 31 points.
Canada opens the World Cup against France on Friday, August 25 at 9:30 a.m. That will be followed by dates with Lebanon on Sunday, August 27 at 5:45 a.m. ET and finally with Latvia on Tuesday, August 29 at 9:30 a.m. ET.
The top two teams in each group advance to the second round, where they are drawn into new groups. The results of the first round carry over when teams play the two teams in the new group that they did not face in the first round. The second round will be held from August 31 to September 4.
The top two teams in each second round group advance to the quarter-finals, from which they aim to advance to the semi-finals and then the final. The playoff round takes place from September 5-10 in Manila, Philippines.
What are Canada’s chances at the FIBA World Cup??
In recent history, Canada has not fared well at the FIBA World Cup. Finished 21st in 2019 and 22nd in 2010, they have qualified for only two of the last four tournaments.
However, a turnaround for the men’s national team has been long overdue, especially given the large number of Canadian players in the NBA and other professional leagues around the world.
They entered the 2023 World Cup with an 11-1 record in FIBA Americas qualifying. Their FIBA ranking of 15th indicates an expectation to advance in the first round. If they finish in the top two of Group H, they will be paired with the top two teams from Group G for the second round in Jakarta. Group G includes two heavyweights — No. 1-ranked FIBA nation and defending champion Spain, the team that kicked Canada out of the FIBA AmeriCup in 2022, and No. 13-ranked Brazil.
How can Canada qualify for the FIBA World Cup in Paris 2024?
From the FIBA World Cup, seven teams will play Qualify for the next Olympics. It includes two teams from the Americas region, two teams from Europe and one team each from Africa, Asia and Oceania. France automatically qualified as the host country for the Paris 2024 Games.
Canada must be among the top two U.S. teams at the World Cup to book an Olympic spot. Brazil, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, USA and Venezuela are competing for Olympic qualification from the region. Countries that do not qualify for Paris 2024 through the World Cup will have another chance through next year’s FIBA Olympic qualifiers.
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