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Breaking Down Team Canada

Basketball players RJ Barrett and Kelly Olynyk for Team Canada
Team Canada's RJ Barrett (5) high gives Kelly Olynyk (9) after his basket against Team Virgin Islands during first half FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers action, in Ottawa on Monday, July 2, 2018. (Justin Tang/CP)

Team Canada is one of the more exciting and younger teams to watch in the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The Canadian squad is a very youthful group comprising of players from the NBA, college-level athletes, and other professional leagues. With group play just over two weeks away from starting, Canada is one of the top teams to watch in this year’s 32-team bracket. They will compete amongst the likes of the USA, France, Spain, and other prominent countries in this year’s games. And their NBA talent contains some of the best young stars in today’s game. With players like Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and RJ Barrett, this Canadian group will be one that draws a lot of viewership.

But what else does Team Canada bring to the table for FIBA 2023? Let’s take a deeper look at their roster and what all they have to offer…


Roster: Players, What Level, and Their Experience

Of course, the two stars leading this team are Murray and Gilgeous-Alexander. Murray, one of the key pieces to the Denver Nuggets‘ championship run, is a lead guard who can be a do-it-all type of guy. He can shoot the lights out, but he is also a great facilitator and a decent rebounder for his position.

Accordingly, Gilgeous-Alexander is developing into a young star on the emerging Oklahoma City Thunder. In the 2022-23 season, the fifth-year guard posted a career-high in points per game (31.4), field-goal percentage (.51), and steals per game (1.6). Not only can Gilgeous-Alexander be an electric scorer, but he is developing into a very versatile two-way guard.

Lastly, the final notable name is RJ Barrett. After being named an MVP in 2017 with Canada’s 19 and Under team, Barrett is slowly emerging into a steady wing performer for the New York Knicks. Barrett is coming off of a solid season where he averaged 19.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists a game. He might not be a guy who can lead an offense, but he is undoubtedly a capable number two or three option for a squad.

Looking at the rest of the roster, there is a rather intriguing mix of players. Some other NBA talent includes Kelly Olynyk, Dillon Brooks, and Lu Dort.


Looking at the Schedule Ahead

Pool play for Team Canada begins on Friday, August 25, at the Indonesia Arena in Jakarta, Indonesia. However, they are in a bit of a difficult draw. Canada is in Group H, and their competition represents the countries of France, Latvia, and Lebanon. Some reference this combination of teams as a “group of death.”

The first match-up comes against Team France on Friday, August 25. Their second game is a game with Lebanon on Sunday, August 27. Phase 1 concludes for the Canadians on Tuesday, August 29, against Latvia.

After each team plays each other once, the top two teams from each group advance to the second phase. Where they will face the top two teams from another group, if Team Canada finishes first or second in their original draw, they will be in Group L and meet the top two teams from Group G, which includes Iran, Spain, Cote D’Ivoire, and Brazil.


Last Appearance/Championship

Canada last played in the FIBA World Cup in 2019, when they placed 21st out of 32 teams, missing the playoffs.

Canada has actually yet to win a FIBA World Cup to this point. In their history, the best finish for Team Canada was back-to-back sixth-place finishes in 1978 and 1982.

However, this year is different for the Canadian team in more ways than one. Not only are there new players on this year’s roster, but there’s also a new head coach at the helm, after being under the leadership of current Philadelphia 76ers head coach Nick Nurse, the team now finds itself being led by Sacramento Kings assistant coach Jordi Fernandez.


The Final Thoughts On The 2023 Team Canada FIBA Group

Overall, on paper, this Team Canada squad has lots of talent to build upon. The only question is, how can they take advantage of it? Also, how will this group mesh and develop through pool play? That, of course, awaits until the beginning of the tournament to watch.

But Team Canada could emerge as a sneaky spoiler to hang with the big guns in this year’s competition. People shouldn’t sleep on this year’s Canadian roster. The reason why is because they have an exciting young core of players. And the young guns like Murray and Gilgeous-Alexander could be immediate firestarters for the offense. If this team comes together, Canada will make some serious noise in this year’s tournament.


Nate Powalie is a contributor for Back Sports Page. A 2022 graduate of Ashland University (Ashland, Ohio), Nate has five years of sports writing experience and has gotten the chance to call sporting events for radio and live stream. Nate can be found on Twitter (@PNate22) and Facebook (Nate Powalie).

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