Title: Canada’s FIBA qualifier dominance about more than just NBA talent
Date: July 3, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I shared some thoughts on Canada’s dominance in the first round of FIBA World Cup qualifying
Canada followed up an emphatic win over the Dominican Republic on Friday with another, just as dominant, against the U.S. Virgin Islands on Monday in Ottawa. In doing so, Canada is now officially on to the second round of qualifying for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, finishing atop Group B with a 5-1 record and a remarkable +153 point differential.
Short of the one early misstep on the road against the Dominican Republic, this was exactly what Canada was hoping for. They were the most dominant team in the Americas qualifying zone, its best offence by a significant margin, and they have the theoretical World Cup upside that no Americas team other than the United States can hope to push to when player participation is even greater for a major event (Canada had just five of the 14 Canadians who played in the NBA with them here, and none in the two in-season quadrants).
From here, they’ll play Brazil, Venezuela, and Chile twice each in a new pool with the Dominican Republic and U.S. Virgin Islands, with records carrying over. The top three teams in the new pool will qualify, plus the best fourth-place team. Canada is in great shape to qualify — they have done so only once since 2002, finishing 22nd in 2010 — assuming Venezuela doesn’t once again prove to be a mental road block. Three of these games will be at home, including one in September where NBA players figure to be theoretically available, and a pair in February where they don’t.