Kelly Olynyk has been crossed off the FIBA World Cup list after sustaining a knee injury in an exhibition match! The Miami Heat forward is another name from a long list of absentees for team Canada. The Canadian basketball squad started preparations for this year’s World Cup tournament with aspirations of winning a medal. As things are looking now, Canada would be happy just by advancing from the group stage.
A number of NBA players have decided against playing at the upcoming tournament in China. The most notable absentees are from the US team, as they too have had a lot of changes where more than 10 athletes thanked coach Popovich for the call-up and stayed home. It seems that a lot of players in Canada have caught the cancelation bug as well.
Have Canada’s plans changed and is Nick Nurse under pressure to keep everything together?
What is the Biggest Problem?
Losing so many stars is a big blow for the Canadian National Team! Canada entered the competition with a lot of hype behind them. Most of the NBA stars on the roster have had stellar seasons the previous year. A lot was expected from Jamal Murray, who led Denver Nuggets to the conference semi-final this year. RJ Barrett and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander were seen as players with potential who could shine at the showpiece tournament.
Unfortunately, Nick Nurse will have to carry on with a severely weakened roster. Losing certain stars would mean having problems in clutch situations. You need an experienced player who has the ability to win a game in one move. Some of the absentees were seen as clutch-factors that could have provided better scoring options when things are not going their way. It remains to be seen if the ones available can step up as leaders of the team.
Is it Realistic to Hope for a Medal?
With so many key players being excused from the World Cup for Canada, there is less chance for them to win a medal. Fans were hoping that with a strong roster of talented individuals they would have simply strolled to the semifinals, at the least. The road to success is not so easy now. Nick Nurse and his staff might start considering a secondary goal for their squad – the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Namely, the two best-ranked teams from the Americas will automatically qualify for next year’s Olympics. Since the USA is the favorite to win the competition and reach the finals, Canada needs to make sure that they are second in line. If we don’t get a medal, a direct spot leading to the Summer Olympics would be a nice consolation prize.
Nevertheless, the first step is winning the group where we are playing against Australia, Lithuania and Senegal. Based on the odds offered by 888sport, Lithuania is the favorite to take the number one spot in Group H, priced at 2.40. Australia and Canada are backed equally for advancing through from the top spot at 2.90.
Who will Lead Team Canada?
If we look at the friendly games that the Canadian team has played, there are no clear leaders emerging so far. In fact, they have displayed lacklustre performances against Nigeria and Australia. Cory Joseph is the captain, but his numbers were not as impressive as you would expect from an NBA-caliber player. Khem Birch of Orlando Magic was a bright spot as he provided scoring when needed and was active in the paint. He might be the spark that lights the fuse for the team from the Great North down the stretch of the tournament.
As far as other players go, the ones that came from Europe showed that they too could be counted on. Barcelona’s Kevin Pangos has shown the most and he is followed by the likes of Brady Heslip, Melvin Ejim and Kaza Kajami-Keane. However, it seems that team basketball is what they need to focus on. Playing as a unit is the best tactic for Nick Nurse’s side gaining a favorable position at this year’s World Cup.
What’s the Real Reason Behind all the Cancelations
Finally, we get to the part that a lot of people are reluctant to talk about – the real reason why so many stars are cancelling their participation at the upcoming 2019 FIBA World Cup! Unfortunately, not all cancellations are related to injuries. Most of them are because of the upcoming NBA season, which might prove to be the most thrilling one yet. Many high-caliber players have decided that getting ready for the upcoming season is much more important for them than playing for their country. The US and Canadian rosters are not the only ones affected. A lot of other teams needed to change tactics because of major stars not wanting to play. Most of them have stated “personal reasons” as an excuse for not appearing, but we all know what is actually going on. Mind you, the ones who are really injured are rightfully excused.
The Absentees So Far
- Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves
- Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers)
- Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)
- RJ Barrett (New York Knicks)
- Kelly Olynyk (Miami Heat)
- Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks)
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder)
- Chris Boucher (Toronto Raptors)
FIBA World Cup Predictions
Even with so many stars being absent due to injury or personal reasons, there is still a lot to hope for at the FIBA World Cup. With or without their star players most of the teams are not changing the initial plan – winning a medal!
Bet365 sees the USA as a clear favorite, even with problems that they are having with their roster. The USA is priced at 1.40 for taking home the gold. Other notable considerations are Serbia (5.25) and Greece (11.00). Canada can be backed at 101.00.
However, many people are counting out the Spaniards. They too have a respectable group of individuals and a lot of potential for winning the competition. If you think the same, Spain winning the 2019 FIBA World Cup is available at 15.00.