When Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse considered and eventually accepted the head coaching job for the Canada men’s national basketball team, he was expecting to have a number of NBA players at his disposal in the FIBA World Cup.
“When I considered [the job] I thought there would be a majority of NBA guys playing, which I thought made sense as an NBA coach to have an NBA guy coaching them,” Nurse said, per Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press (via CBC Sports).
Canada has had an underwhelming showing in the World Cup in China. The team failed to advance to the second round after going 1-2 in the opening round. Now, they are currently playing in a last-chance qualifier to land a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
It’s a shame that Canada didn’t even make it out of the first round. Much of this has to do with the fact that they weren’t able to field their best possible team.
Canada boasts the highest number of NBA players from outside the U.S.. The talent among those players is certainly there. Among those who could have suited up for Canada are rising Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray, former no. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, this year’s no. 3 overall pick R.J. Barrett, and sophomore guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Obviously, none of those mentioned above showed up for this year’s FIBA World Cup.
Potentially, Canada could have fielded a powerhouse squad in this year’s tournament. However, they were forced to lean on who were left and willing to represent the nation in the quadrennial affair.
Hopefully, the top Canadian NBA players can come together for the country at some point in the future.