Cory Joseph has joined Canada’s men’s basketball team ahead of the FIBA World Cup.
The 28-year-old from Pickering, Ont., played in the team’s two exhibition games against Nigeria in Canada, but skipped the squad’s pre-World Cup trip to Australia.
After rumblings that Joseph would back out of the World Cup, his presence is good news for a Canadian squad that’s seen numerous big names decide to pass on the global tournament, which opens Saturday in various venues in China.
“I have no idea where that [rumour] came from, there was no confusion on this end, me, coach, Rowan [Barrett, Canada Basketball’s general manager], everybody, we’ve talked from Day 1, from training camp about what was going to go down.”
The Sacramento Kings guard and Orlando Magic forward Khem Birch are the only NBA players for Canada, which opens the tournament against Australia on Saturday.
Brissett leaves with injury
Canada lost Oshae Brissett, who was among the team’s leading scorers in the team’s exhibition games. He returned home to Toronto after injuring his leg in a game against New Zealand.
“It was a tough one because he was playing outstanding, really fit that slot we needed, he was shooting just enough, he was driving a bit, he was rebounding like crazy, double-figure rebounds from the small forward spot, and was playing great defence — really a good solid piece to the puzzle,” said coach Nick Nurse. “Probably could have played and been OK, but just didn’t think it was the right thing to do, we sent him home to get rehabbed and 100 per cent and ready to go his next assignment.”
WATCH | Rob Pizzo breaks down how Canada can reach the Olympics:
Nurse made a couple of roster moves ahead of Thursday’s deadline, releasing guards Aaron Best and Duane Notice.
“Playing for your country is one of the greatest honours in sport and the players are fully committed to giving everything they have for Canada,” said Nick Nurse. “I’m proud of the group of players we’ve selected to represent Canada at the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup.”
Miami Heat centre Kelly Olynyk pulled out after injuring his knee in Canada’s first game against Nigeria.
7 teams qualify for Olympics
With Canada’s depth of NBA talent, this summer was expected to see the best Canadian squad ever assembled. But numerous big names opted to skip the World Cup including Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins, R.J. Barrett, Tristan Thompson, Dwight Powell, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Canada went 4-3 in pre-World Cup action, splitting a pair of exhibition games with Australia and Nigeria, beating New Zealand twice, then dropping an ugly 84-68 decision to the U.S. on Monday.
Seven teams from the World Cup will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Canada must finish top-two among teams from the Americas. Another 16 teams will play in last-chance Olympic qualifying tournaments next summer.
The Canadians play Lithuania on Monday, then Senegal on Sept. 5.
Canada is making its first World Cup appearance since 2010. The Canadians went 0-5 to finish 22nd out of 24 teams that year in Turkey.
- Khem Birch, centre, Montreal
- Melvin Ejim, forward, Toronto
- Brady Heslip, guard, Burlington, Ont.
- Cory Joseph, guard, Toronto
- Kaza Kajami-Keane, guard, Ajax, Ont.
- Owen Klassen, centre, Kingston, Ont.
- Conor Morgan, forward, Victoria
- Andrew Nembhard, guard, Aurora, Ont.
- Kevin Pangos, guard, Newmarket, Ont.
- Phil Scrubb, guard, Richmond, B.C.
- Thomas Scrubb, forward, Richmond, B.C.
- Kyle Wiltjer, forward, Portland, Ore.