June 17, 2016
Countdown to Manila OQT: 18 days
Toronto Raptors guard and Canadian men’s national team member Cory Joseph told FIBA.com that he sees a “competitive” and “exciting” 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila, Philippines next month.
“Everyone has the same dream of going to Rio and every game is going to be very competitive. France and Turkey have a lot of experience, but every team is going to Manilla with ambition,” Joseph said on the FIBA website.
“It’s going to be an exciting tournament. Tony Parker and Boris Diaw are going to be there with France too, that’s going to be an interesting experience.”
While frustrated that Canada was unable to secure an automatic spot to the Rio Olympics after losing to Venezuela in the semifinals of the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship, Joseph said it is time to focus on the second chance that they have.
“I felt like we were right there, we were rolling, we were playing good, it’s just that one game that cost us from automatically going to Rio. I feel like we have another chance, and this time we got to put that much more effort to make it,” Joseph said.
“It was frustrating as we had maybe our worst game of the tournament at the worst moment. Venezuela outplayed us. In this kind of competition, every team is talented and plays with a lot of passion. It was disappointing not to reach the gold medal and clinch a direct spot to Rio. Now, our minds are focused on Manila. We got to fight for our lives to get a spot to the Olympic tournament.”
Canada is fresh from a five-day training camp that saw 22 players participate.
Aside from Joseph, Canada’s preliminary pool includes Shai Alexander, Joel Anthony, RJ Barrett, Anthony Bennett, Sim Bhullar, Khem Birch, Dillon Brooks, Chris Boucher, Jason Calliste, Melvin Ejim, Tyler Ennis, Brady Heslip, Tyson Hinz, Corey Johnson, Owen Klassen, Levon Kendall, Naz Mirtou-Long, Dyshawn Pierre, Philip Scrubb, Thomas Scrubb, and Simisola Shittu.
Notable absences include NBA players Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas, Kelly Olynyk, and Tristan Thompson.
Canada shall also train in Europe and play exhibition matches with China, Puerto Rico, and Croatia as part of the squad’s preparation for the Manila OQT.
Canada is in Group A of the tournament along with Senegal and Turkey.