If everything goes the way Canada Basketball wants it to, the men’s team could clinch a spot in the 2019 FIBA World Cup as early as Monday.
On Friday, Canada takes on Venezuela in Caracas and will follow that game up with a match in Sao Paulo to face Brazil on Monday. Should the Canadians come out on top in both matchups, according to information provided to Sportsnet from Canada Basketball, Team Canada will earn a berth into next year’s World Cup.
Winning both games in this second-to-last window of qualifiers will be the surest way for Canada to ensure a spot into the World Cup, but not the only one.
For the more nervous Canadian hoops fans out there keeping track of the team, Canada can also clinch on Monday if they win just one of the two games they’re playing and if the Dominican Republic, currently fourth in group, loses both of its games against Brazil and Chile.
Don’t hold your breath on that particular scenario happening, however. Even though No. 3 Brazil’s game Friday against the Dominican is also in Sao Paulo and should result in a Brazilian victory, the second game the Dominican Republic plays will be against Chile, a team that sports a minus-125 point differential and sits last in the group.
After these two batches of games there will be another two-game window to determine final placements where potential tiebreakers could be applied to ultimately decide who reaches the World Cup.
So the easiest and quickest way for Canada to clinch is to just win out in this window, but even if it only comes away with one of two, its Friday game with Venezuela will likely be more meaningful as the two nations currently sit atop Group F in the qualifiers with a 7-1 record.
Here’s a look at Canada’s group entering Friday’s game:
|5||U.S. Virgin Islands||2||6||10|
The top three teams from this group will earn an automatic berth into the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The fourth-place finisher also has a chance to reach the World Cup, but that’s dependent by how the fourth-place finisher of the other Americas region group (Group E) performs.
Qualifying for the World Cup is paramount for Canada Basketball’s future ambition as Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification will feed directly out of that event.
The roster Canada will be fielding for these next two games in Venezuela and Brazil will be devoid of NBA players but not necessarily talent.
“I think we’ve got a lot of good pros in Europe that we can choose from,” Canadian guard Phil Scrubb told Sportsnet in a telephone interview last week. “So I think we have a lot of guys who are on Canada Basketball’s radar, but because we have so many other talented players they wouldn’t have got a shot, and now they just have more opportunity to represent their country.”
To this point, Candian head coach Roy Rana added in a statement: “We are developing a culture of sacrifice and this group embodies the spirt of giving unconditionally to something that is greater than themselves. We are excited for the opportunities ahead in Caracas, Venezuela and Sao Paulo, Brazil.”
You can check out Canada’s full roster for its next two games below:
|Joel Anthony||Centre||Montreal, Que.||San Lorenzo|
|Aaron Best||Guard||Scarborough, Ont.||Riesen Ludwigsburg|
|Brady Heslip||Guard||Burlington, Ont.||Fraport Skyliners|
|Kaza Kajami-Keane||Guard||Ajax, Ont.||Landstede Zwolle|
|Kyle Landry||Centre||Calgary, Alta.||Buducnost|
|Conor Morgan||Forward||Victoria, B.C.||Divina Seguros Joventut|
|Duane Notice||Guard||Woodbridge, Ont.||Raptors 905|
|Dyshawn Pierre||Forward||Whitby, Ont.||Banco di Srd|
|Xavier Rathan-Mayes||Guard||Markham, Ont.||AEK Athens|
|Phil Scrubb||Guard||Richmond, B.C.||Zenit St. Petersburg|
|Thomas Scrubb||Forward||Richmond, B.C.||Pallacanestro Varese|
|Kyle Wiltjer||Forward||Portland, OR||Unicaja Malaga|
Canada will conclude its World Cup qualifying campaign with a pair of games in St. John’s, N.L. on Feb. 21 and 24 against Chile and Venezuela.
Whether or not those contests will be dressed-up celebrations on already clinching a spot into the World Cup is still to be determined.