Raptors’ Nick Nurse to coach Canada at FIBA World Cup

GM of Canada Men's National Basketball program, Rowan Barrett, introduces Nick Nurse as head coach, explaining why he was the perfect fit for the job after such an exhaustive search.

Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors will lead Canada into the FIBA World Cup later this year as its head coach.

Canada Basketball officially made the announcement on Monday after weeks of speculation surrounding the possibility of Nurse taking the job. It also announced Gordie Herbert has been named associate head coach after helping the Canadians to a pair of victories during Americas Qualifiers for the World Cup.

Nurse is coming off an NBA championship with the Raptors in his first season as the team’s head coach.

The 51-year-old from Carroll, Iowa, said he’s looking forward to working with a talented group of young players.

“I love the international game,” Nurse said in a statement. “I also see this as a real chance for me to learn from the world’s best, and for us to represent Canada with pride and distinction.”

China will host this year’s World Cup which runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 with 32 teams playing 92 games over 16 days. The Canadians open play on Sept. 1 against Australia and will also face Senegal and Lithuania in Group H.

Seven teams will directly qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo at the World Cup. Canada has to finish either first or second in the Americas zone to earn a direct berth. Nurse’s contract runs through 2020 and he would coach the Canadians at the Olympics should they reach that stage.

Nurse was an assistant coach for Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.

Rowan Barrett, the Canadian senior men’s national team general manager, said Nurse is a proven leader with extensive coaching experience around the world.

“His coaching pedigree shows his ability to win at some of the highest levels and he has a tremendous understanding of the FIBA game and our Canadian NBA players,” Barrett said. “We strongly believe that this unique combination gives our players the best opportunity for success at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”

Canada last qualified for the World Cup in 2010, but wasn’t able to get past the round robin. The Canadians didn’t qualify for the 2014 edition of the tournament.

Jay Triano was the previous head coach of Canada’s senior program for the last four summers, earning a 27-5 record over that span. He stepped down from the position in March 2019 and Canada Basketball had been searching for a replacement ever since.

Herbert, 60, will also coach Canada at the FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers which are set to begin in November.

He is currently head coach of the German BBL club Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt, a position he has held since 2013.

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