Canada still has a World Cup to compete in, even as it acknowledges a disappointing turnout

Title: Canada still has a World Cup to compete in, even as it acknowledges a disappointing turnout
Date: August 6, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Canada Basketball’s disappointing World Cup turnout and what comes next for a still-competitive roster.

It is difficult to get past the sting of the disappointment. What was supposed to be the first major summer in the creation of a so-called Golden Generation for Canada Basketball has been cut down early, the interest or availability from nearly a dozen NBA players hanging a fog over OVO Athletic Centre as training camp for the 2019 FIBA World Cup began in earnest Monday. There is plenty of work to do and a tournament still to be played, but every major stakeholder in the program, from general manager Rowan Barrett to new head coach Nick Nurse to the stalwarts of the senior men’s team, knew the questions they’d be answering: What, exactly, happened, and where the hell is everyone?

It hurts, and there’s little way around it. There is a danger, now, that this five-year window — the 2019 World Cup, 2020 Olympics, the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics — when the explosion of Canadian basketball talent was supposed to finally line up with an ability to compete on the biggest international stages will become a major series of what ifs. This is what Barrett was installed to help prevent, what many hoped Nurse and increased involvement from MLSE could insulate against, what an ever-increasing pipeline of players to choose from was supposed to help render moot. Most certainly, this was not supposed to be the talking point as Canada heads into one of its most important six-week stretches ever. And that’s not hyperbole — with the trouble the program has had in terms of national attention, corporate sponsorship and overall financial health, a repeat of 2015 and 2016 could be a momentum-killer.

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