Canadian men will play Olympic basketball qualifying tournament in Victoria
Canada's head coach Nick Nurse protests a call for Nigeria during the second half of their exhibition game in Winnipeg, Friday, August 9, 2019 in preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)
The Canadian men's basketball team will play its Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria, B.C., in June.
Canada must win the six-team tournament, June 23-28, to earn a berth for Tokyo. The draw will be Nov. 27.
“Being able to host a FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament at home is a great opportunity for our team on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” Canada Basketball CEO Glen Grunwald said in a statement. “This is sure to be a week-long celebration that fans of basketball in Greater Victoria, and across our great country, won't ever forget.”
Seven countries qualified for Tokyo at the FIBA World Cup in China, but missing most of its stars, the Canadian team finished 21st there.
Japan qualifies automatically as the host country.
The six teams in Victoria will be divided into two groups of three with each playing all the other teams in its own group. The top two teams in each group will play in the semifinals. The two semifinal winners will advance to the final, with the winner earning a trip to Tokyo.
Victoria's Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre will host the event.
Canada has had trouble in the past getting its NBA players to commit to playing for the national team. Only two - Sacramento's Cory Joseph and Orlando's Kham Birch - participated in the World Cup in September.
But at least one Canadian appears to be willing to suit up for the qualifying tournament.
“I plan on being there, I plan on playing regardless of if I get a contract or whatever happens,” Memphis forward Dillon Brooks told the NBA's website. “I'm going to play for Team Canada because you know I missed out this year and I really want to play and make it to the Olympics.
“It's something in my basketball career that I want to do - wear that red and white. It's going to be a special year for us in Canada.”
Croatia, Lithuania, and Serbia were also announced as tournament hosts on Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 15, 2019.