Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, left, shares a laugh with Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) while playing against the Golden State Warriors during second half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. Twenty-nine players were invited to Canada’s training camp ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the head coach — fresh off of leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title — has to prepare his group for a long six week of tough basketball. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse preparing Canada for long FIBA World Cup run

Playing in the World Cup amounts to a six-week commitment from players

Nick Nurse is going to prepare Canada’s men’s basketball team for a long haul.

A group of 29 players — including 17 NBAers — were invited to Canada’s training camp on Tuesday ahead of the FIBA World Cup. The Canadians will play a pair of exhibition games in Toronto and Winnipeg before five more games in Australia before travelling to China for the international tournament that will be held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.

Nurse, fresh off of an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors, wants Canada to be in the final.

“It’s a talented group of guys. If these guys can gel, we can go as far as we want to go,” said Nurse. “But there’s some work to do. We’ve got to get together, we’re going to have to develop a really tough mentality defensively, we’re going to have to develop a selfless, hit-the-open-man offensive mentality.

“When you start doing those things who knows where you can go. But my objective is to win.”

Rowan Barrett, Canada’s general manager of men’s high performance teams, said depth will be one of the critical components of his roster. Canada had the second-most players in the NBA to start the 2018 season behind only the United States.

That number is expected to grow this fall after six Canadians were selected in the NBA draft, a new record for most players picked from any country outside the U.S. in a single draft.

Playing in the World Cup amounts to a six-week commitment from players, with Canada opening its two-game exhibition series against Nigeria in Toronto on Aug. 7 and then playing in Winnipeg on Aug. 9.

After those two games the Canadians will travel to Australia for a five-game exhibition series against Australia (Aug. 16-17), New Zealand (Aug. 20-21) and the Americans (Aug. 26) before heading to China for the tournament itself.

READ MORE: Ex-Raptor Danny Green says bags stolen in Downtown Eastside

Basketball Canada said a finalized list of training camp attendees will be announced prior to the start of camp.

“I think to give our team the best chance that we have to be successful we need to have those commitments and have the players in,” said Barrett. “If you’re in, you need to show up on that first day and let’s get going, let’s get started.”

Jamal Murray is the biggest name invited to play for Canada at the tournament.

He averaged 18.2 points and 4.8 rebounds for Denver this past season, guiding the upstart Nuggets to within a game of the Western Conference finals. The 22-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., agreed to a five-year, US$170 million contract extension with Denver on July 1, the richest deal for a Canadian player in NBA history.

R.J. Barrett, who was drafted third overall by the New York Knicks this summer, is also on the list of invitees. The son of Rowan Barrett and godson of Canadian basketball legend Steve Nash, the younger Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Duke University last season.

Other notables include Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and Miami Heat centre Kelly Olynyk.

Former No.1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins was not invited to the camp. He averaged 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“We’ve had some conversations with him. At the end, it’s come out to him not feeling like this was the right time for him,” said Barrett. “We have to respect that and from now we’ll move forward and we’ll focus on, and respect, all the other players that have decided to play and focus on them moving forward.”

Things won’t get any easier at the World Cup, with Canada in a group with Australia, Lithuania, and Senegal, considered by many to be the toughest group in the tournament.

“I know that we’re playing some physical teams,” said Nurse who was an assistant coach for Great Britain from 2009-12, including the 2012 London Olympics. “I’ve coached many times against Lithuania in the past and a few times against Australia. Their trademark is physicality. We’re going to have to understand that going in. We have to be ready and to play through some physicality”

___

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Forestry Ink: Forest tenure changes are occurring throughout the world

Regular columnist Jim Hilton writes about forest tenure and ownership

Quesnel Safeway honours its volunteer shoppers

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Safeway’s volunteer shopper program

Police name second suspect, lay kidnapping and attempted murder charges in connection with Rudy Johnson Bridge incidents

Drynock is considered dangerous, do not approach him and call the local RCMP detachment immediately

Grey Ghost to get back on track at Doug Larson Memorial Race

Quesnel’s Mike Spooner wants to race again after 17-year hiatus

Northern Development Initiative Trust offers rebate for businesses affected by mill closures, curtailments

Small and medium-sized businesses can apply for Forestry Affected Business Consulting Rebate

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Most Read