First, the good news: Canada has qualified for the 2019 FIBA World Cup of Basketball.
Now, the not-so-good news: with Canada punching its ticket to China next September with a 94-67 win over Brazil in Sao Paulo Monday night, there’s nothing on the line in the two qualifying games in St. John’s on Feb. 21 and 24 against Chile and Venezuela.
The national senior men’s team improved to 8-2 in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas qualifiers Monday with the 27-point upset win.
Canada becomes the 18th team to qualify for the World Cup, joining tournament host China, Angola, Nigeria and Tunisia from Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Korea from Asia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Spain and Turkey from Europe and fellow Americas competitors Argentina, Venezuela and the favourites from the Unites States.
The World Cup involves 32 teams, and will be an Olympic qualifier, sending seven teams directly to the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Canada’s appearance in China will be the team’s 14th at the World Cup, and the first since the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
“This is a great and historic win for our country,” said coach Roy Rana. “Character wins, and I could not be more proud of all the guys who helped us through the windows to date.
“We’re especially grateful for the leadership of Joel Anthony. A Canadian basketball treasure.”
Anthony is a 10-year NBA veteran who is now playing in Argentina.
“It's a great feeling,” Anthony said. “It's been a long time since this country has had a chance to be back on the world stage. I remember when we qualified the last time, and it’s just a really proud feeling to be able to be back and see us get back there.
“To be able to be a part of it is extremely special to me. I'm just really happy, grateful, thankful and excited that we're able to be back where we belong.”
Kyle Wiltjer led all scorers with a game-high 25 points and seven rebounds for Canada. Phil Scrubb added 15 points and six assists, while his brother, Thomas Scrubb, scored 14 points of his own. Duane Notice and Kyle Landry finished with 10 points each.