Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, left, shares a laugh with Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) while playing against the Golden State Warriors during second half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. Twenty-nine players were invited to Canada’s training camp ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the head coach — fresh off of leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title — has to prepare his group for a long six week of tough basketball. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse preparing Canada for long FIBA World Cup run

Playing in the World Cup amounts to a six-week commitment from players

Nick Nurse is going to prepare Canada’s men’s basketball team for a long haul.

A group of 29 players — including 17 NBAers — were invited to Canada’s training camp on Tuesday ahead of the FIBA World Cup. The Canadians will play a pair of exhibition games in Toronto and Winnipeg before five more games in Australia before travelling to China for the international tournament that will be held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.

Nurse, fresh off of an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors, wants Canada to be in the final.

“It’s a talented group of guys. If these guys can gel, we can go as far as we want to go,” said Nurse. “But there’s some work to do. We’ve got to get together, we’re going to have to develop a really tough mentality defensively, we’re going to have to develop a selfless, hit-the-open-man offensive mentality.

“When you start doing those things who knows where you can go. But my objective is to win.”

Rowan Barrett, Canada’s general manager of men’s high performance teams, said depth will be one of the critical components of his roster. Canada had the second-most players in the NBA to start the 2018 season behind only the United States.

That number is expected to grow this fall after six Canadians were selected in the NBA draft, a new record for most players picked from any country outside the U.S. in a single draft.

Playing in the World Cup amounts to a six-week commitment from players, with Canada opening its two-game exhibition series against Nigeria in Toronto on Aug. 7 and then playing in Winnipeg on Aug. 9.

After those two games the Canadians will travel to Australia for a five-game exhibition series against Australia (Aug. 16-17), New Zealand (Aug. 20-21) and the Americans (Aug. 26) before heading to China for the tournament itself.

READ MORE: Ex-Raptor Danny Green says bags stolen in Downtown Eastside

Basketball Canada said a finalized list of training camp attendees will be announced prior to the start of camp.

“I think to give our team the best chance that we have to be successful we need to have those commitments and have the players in,” said Barrett. “If you’re in, you need to show up on that first day and let’s get going, let’s get started.”

Jamal Murray is the biggest name invited to play for Canada at the tournament.

He averaged 18.2 points and 4.8 rebounds for Denver this past season, guiding the upstart Nuggets to within a game of the Western Conference finals. The 22-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., agreed to a five-year, US$170 million contract extension with Denver on July 1, the richest deal for a Canadian player in NBA history.

R.J. Barrett, who was drafted third overall by the New York Knicks this summer, is also on the list of invitees. The son of Rowan Barrett and godson of Canadian basketball legend Steve Nash, the younger Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Duke University last season.

Other notables include Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and Miami Heat centre Kelly Olynyk.

Former No.1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins was not invited to the camp. He averaged 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“We’ve had some conversations with him. At the end, it’s come out to him not feeling like this was the right time for him,” said Barrett. “We have to respect that and from now we’ll move forward and we’ll focus on, and respect, all the other players that have decided to play and focus on them moving forward.”

Things won’t get any easier at the World Cup, with Canada in a group with Australia, Lithuania, and Senegal, considered by many to be the toughest group in the tournament.

“I know that we’re playing some physical teams,” said Nurse who was an assistant coach for Great Britain from 2009-12, including the 2012 London Olympics. “I’ve coached many times against Lithuania in the past and a few times against Australia. Their trademark is physicality. We’re going to have to understand that going in. We have to be ready and to play through some physicality”

___

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

‘No Stone Left Alone’ returns to Wetaskiwin Nov. 2

Volunteers needed for poignant remembrance event

Wetaskiwin’s Horses of Hope event raised over $50,000

Organizers note 160 people attended charity dinner

Military posers insult real veterans: writer

Fake medals and bogus insignia insulting to service members

Two subdivisions given County of Wetaskiwin extensions

Both applicants given 12 month extensions to developments

Suspect wearing Batman cap sexually assaults woman on Main Street Wetaskiwin

Wetaskiwin RCMP Investigate Sexual Assault – Seek Information and ID suspect

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

PODCAST: Journalism instructor discusses how reporters have taken on climate change

Mount Royal University’s Sean Holman has been researching how journalists have covered climate change

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Alberta truck convoy plans counter-protest at climate rally with Greta Thunberg

United We Roll organizer says similar protest planned for Swedish teen’s event in Edmonton

Maskwacis RCMP truck rammed by fleeing vehicle

An individual has been arrested following a chase and then a deliberate… Continue reading

Alberta takes second look at trucking changes after meeting Broncos families

Transportation minister has said government was reviewing rules for school bus drivers and farmers

Male pedestrian dead after collision with train in Blackfalds

Man from Red Deer pronounced dead at the scene

‘Sky didn’t fall:’ Police, lawyers still adjusting after pot legalization

Statistics Canada says 541 people were charged under the federal Cannabis Act between Oct. 17, 2018 and the end of the year

Most Read