There are simply no excuses. The Canadian Senior Men’s National Team should be heading to the Olympics. This is a group with more talent than almost anyone else in the world. It’s not a developing program, it’s a developed program that has produced more NBA players than any country outside of the United States. This isn’t about injuries to Jamal Murray or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, this team had the talent to win and win pretty easily. It simply came up short, falling 103-101 in overtime to the Czech Republic failing to qualify for the Olympics for the fifth straight time.
Give the Canadians credit. They somehow erased a 10-point Czech Republic lead with less than a minute to go in regulation. It was as improbable a comeback as you’ll ever see. Canada’s defense clamped down and after 39 minutes of total three-point shooting futility, Andrew Wiggins took over.
In overtime, Canada jumped ahead five. That should have been enough. With as much talent as the Canadians have and all the momentum on their side, it should have been smooth sailing from there. But the Czechs and specifically guard Blake Schilb wouldn’t go away. Canada’s final shot, a mid-range jumper from Trey Lyles rolled around the rim and jumped out.
This is what Cory Joseph had warned about prior to the tournament. He said the team’s talent was meaningless on the international level. He, more than anyone else on the team, knows how important experience is in the international game. He’s seen Canada come up short time and time again. This time, things were no different.
Canada looked shaky in its opening game against Greece. OK, maybe that was just first-game jitters. When they ran away from China it seemed as though maybe they had fixed their issues.
When the do-or-die semifinals rolled around against a talented and bigger Czech team, Canada couldn’t find answers. Their jump shots simply wouldn’t fall for the better part of the night and they couldn’t get downhill and to the rim consistently enough against the Czech Republic’s two seven-footers.
In total, Canada shot just 9-for-37 from beyond the arc.
Canada’s only lead of the afternoon came in overtime, when Nickeil Alexander-Walker, one of Canada’s few effective scorers, put them up three just seconds into extra time. But an unguarded Schilb, the one player Canada couldn’t afford to leave uncovered, nailed a killer three-pointer to give the Czechs a late lead.
Now Canada will have to wait another three years before its men will have a chance to make their first Olympic appearance in two decades. This was supposed to be the end of a nightmare. Instead, the long night continues.