Gilgeous-Alexander, Alexander-Walker say they’ll play for Canada in summer

Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) takes a shot against New Orleans' JJ Redick (4) while Josh Hart (3) and Mike Muscala (33) look on during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (Garett Fisbeck/AP)

Canada’s mens basketball team has added another strength to its roster as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander confirmed on Twitter Monday night that he will be joining the program in preparation for next year’s Olympic qualifying tournament.

“I’ve known and made a promise to myself that representing my country is something I will continue to do,” Gilgeous-Alexander wrote in a tweet. “I too will be there to do my best to help @CanBball get to Tokyo!”

Shortly after, his cousin Nickeil Alexander-Walker of the New Orleans Pelicans also said on Twitter that he’ll be suiting up for Canada in the tournament.

“Excited to announce that I’ll be playing for Canada Basketball this summer,” Alexander-Walker wrote. “Blessed to be able to represent my country and compete against the best in the world. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid growing up in Toronto.”

This season, the 21-year-old Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 19.3 points, 3.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds. Gilgeous-Alexander, who grew up in Hamilton, Ont., was drafted 11th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in 2018, then traded to the Los Angeles Clippers that same night. He was then acquired by the Thunder in this summer’s Paul George blockbuster.

Alexander-Walker, also 21, was the 17th overall pick in June’s NBA Draft. He’s averaging 6.4 points and shooting 34 per cent from three point range in 16 games off the bench this season.

Earlier Monday, Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray confirmed he also intends to play for Canada next summer.

The Olympic qualifying tournament takes place next June in Victoria with the winner joining the 12-team field at the Tokyo Games.

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