Canada's men's basketball team must beat France for Rio Olympic berth
Italy, Philippines, Serbia to host 6-team tourneys
A pair of NBA standouts, Tony Parker and Rudy Gobert, stand in the way of the Canadian men's basketball team's hopes of securing a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympic tournament.
Expect Parker and Gobert to be on the roster of the world No. 5 French team for the final Olympic qualifying tournament from July 4-10 in Manila, Philippines, where the 26th-ranked Canadians will be part of Group A with Turkey (8) and Senegal (31)
New Zealand (21) and the host Philippines (28) join France in Group B, with the winner of the six-team tourney packing their bags for Brazil.
Two other six-team qualifying tourneys will be held in Belgrade, Serbia and Turin, Italy.
"We're happy to be going anywhere, and every side of the draw was going to be tough, every team in there has the same goal as we have," Triano said on a conference call Tuesday.
"There's not a lot you can do about it, there's not a lot you can stress about it, you've got to get ready to play games now."
However, Triano was happy to avoid the tournament in Serbia where he said facing that host country would have been extremely difficult.
Parker, considered one of the best point guards in the NBA, is averaging 12.5 points and 2.6 rebounds this season for the San Antonio Spurs. The shot-blocking Gobert, the third-year starting centre of the Utah Jazz, is aptly dubbed "The Stifle Tower" for his defensive prowess.
Parker's Spurs teammate, six-foot-eight centre/forward Boris Diaw (7.1 points per game), Charlotte Hornets guard/forward Nicolas Batum (15.1 PPG, 6.3 rebounds) and Orlando Magic guard/forward Evan Fournier (13.7, 2.9) could also be part of the French roster.
Canada will play Turkey and Senegal in the preliminary round (July 5-7), with the top two advancing to the knockout semifinals on July 9. The final will be contested July 10.
The United States, Brazil, Australia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Lithuania and China have already qualified.
Canada failed in its most recent attempt to qualify for the Rio Summer Games, dropping a 79-78 semifinal decision to Venezuela in the FIBA Americas tournament.
Canada's men's team hasn't played at the Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Games.
Men's qualifier groupings
- Group A: Turkey, Senegal, CANADA
- Group B:France, New Zealand, Philippines
- Group A: Serbia, Angola, Puerto Rico
- Group B: Japan, Czech Republic, Latvia
- Group A: Greece, Mexico, Iran
- Group B: Tunisia, Croatia, Italy
Canada's women's team qualified for Rio in mid-August with an 82-66 handling of Cuba in the gold medal game of the FIBA Americas Women's Championship in Edmonton.
With files from The Canadian Press