World Cup preview: Canada will have to fight for survival in ‘group of death’

Title: World Cup preview: Canada will have to fight for survival in ‘group of death’
Date: August 29, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I previewed the FIBA World Cup from the Team Canada perspective.

The 2019 FIBA World Cup begins on Sunday, meaning we’ll soon have answers to literal years of wondering what Canada Basketball will look like as they transition from growth stage to performance stage. Will this finally be the major international tournament where Canada’s performance catches up to their NBA representation?

It’s been nearly a decade since Canada was last in a World Cup and two since they last qualified for the Olympics, and those facts are overdue for a change when considering all of the other momentum in Canadian basketball, from players being drafted to the Raptors championship to the success of the women’s program.

The last six weeks have mostly focused on why that may not happen. It has, at the same time, been disappointing and provides an opportunity for Canada to flex the depth of the program and the talent pool on a major stage. An Olympic qualification hangs in the balance, leveraging up the intensity of an already intense, no-room-for-error format. Spotty attendance or not, Canada should be expected to be competitive, even in the so-called Group of Death where every game — heck, every point for the differential tiebreaker — is pivotal.

The World Cup gets rolling across eight cities in China bright and early Aug. 31, if you’re in the Eastern time zone. Canada tips off on Day 2 from Dongguan, and we’ll have something resembling regular-season Raptors coverage for you here throughout. What follows is a high-level preview to get you prepared. You’ll also need a coffee. Maybe two.

Check it out!

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