Canada Basketball announced its 29-player list of invitees for its 2019 FIBA World Cup training camp on Tuesday with the notable omission of Andrew Wiggins.
In a conference call shortly after the full training camp roster was unveiled, Rowan Barrett, general manager of Canada Basketball’s men’s national team, said the reason for Wiggins’ omission was because it came down to the former No. 1 overall draft pick “not feeling this is the right time for him.”
A shame because it seems like Canada Basketball wanted him with the squad during camp at least.
“I don’t know if disappointed is the word,” said Canada Basketball CEO Glen Grunwald on Good Show Wednesday afternoon on Sportsnet 590 The Fan when asked if the program was a little crestfallen over Wiggins not attending. “But we would’ve liked him to participate. But we respect his decision and wish him the best.”
Expanding on this, Grunwald said every player’s decision to join the national team or not is a personal one and that no one should be dismayed by players opting not to participate.
“You have to respect someone’s decision,” Grunwald said. “Our players are all volunteers. They don’t get any money for participating, they’re volunteering their time and, literally, millions of dollars of services are contributed to our program by our players so we have to respect the value of what they’re providing us and what it means to them.”
So then, would an Olympic berth – or even a last chance at an Olympic berth – be enough to entice Wiggins? And even if it was, would Grunwald and Canada Basketball still want the 24-year-old on a potential 2020 squad?
“We’ll have to see when that time rolls around,” said Grunwald. “Right now we’re just focused on the World Cup. That’s the challenge before us and if we do well enough here we’ll then start worrying about the Olympics or, if we don’t do well enough here, we’ll worry about qualifying for the Olympics in a qualifying tournament that will take place next year.”
The 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup will begin on Aug. 31 with Canada to open its tournament on Sept. 1 against Australia. Drawn into a challenging Group H that also features Lithuania and Senegal, Canada will be in tough to accomplish its ultimate goal but not entirely out of reach of it.
“Our goal is to win a medal and move onto the Olympics and I think it’s possible,” said Grunwald. “Our work is going to be cut out for us, but if we have our players healthy and playing together we have as good a chance as anyone to get to the medal round.”
You can listen to Grunwald’s entire appearance on Good Show using the radio player above where he, among other topics, talks about what the hiring of Nick Nurse can do for the legitimacy of the national program.