Minnesota Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins has committed to play for Canada at the 2019 FIBA World Cup this summer, which could potentially boost Canada’s chances of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Team Canada general manager Rowan Barrett shared the news with Sportsnet’s Arash Madani on Monday.
On the heels of the Toronto Raptors’ historic NBA Finals victory, there has never been a time like this in Canadian basketball and Barrett hopes the program can capitalize.
“I think the Raptors are clearly Canada’s team — We The North, right? — but we actually do have a Canada basketball team that represents our country and I’m expecting now the support that I’ve seen and the awareness that I’ve seen in this game, I’m hoping some of that will trickle over into our national team that actually has Canadians in it that’s going to try and represent our country in the best way at the World Cup,” Barrett, who was promoted to GM of the senior men’s team by Canada Basketball back in March, told Madani.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse confirmed over the weekend he will coach the team.
Earlier this year, Wiggins said he was open to the idea of playing for Canada at the World Cup, but wouldn’t confirm his participation. He was reportedly upset at the time that former national head coach Jay Triano had parted ways with the program.
The World Cup takes place in China from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15 with Canada set to compete in Group H with Australia, Lithuania and Senegal.
Wiggins, a 24-year-old Toronto native, has represented Canada at various tournaments throughout his young career won a bronze medal at the 2015 FIBA AmeriCup.
The first-overall pick from the 2014 NBA Draft is one of a dozen or so Canadians currently on NBA rosters. The only Canadian to average more points per game in 2018-19 than the 18.1 Wiggins averaged over 73 games was Denver Nuggets points guard Jamal Murray who had 18.2 points per game.