Canada Basketball progressing toward playing in upcoming FIBA AmeriCup qualifier
Program was fined for skipping previous tournament due to concerns over pandemic
There is still no official word on whether Canada will participate in the FIBA men's AmeriCup qualifying tournament, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 17 in Puerto Rico.
Canada Basketball president and CEO Glen Grunwald told CBC Sports on Monday the program is "making good progress" toward participation and expects to know more later this week.
The program was fined up to $227,138 plus one point in the standings by FIBA after it skipped the previous November qualifier, citing health and safety concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Canada, ranked 21st by FIBA, is scheduled to play four times, twice each against the 51st-ranked U.S. Virgin Islands and No. 63 Cuba. Canada already split its pair of games against the Dominican Republic (No. 19), the final country in its qualifying group, in February 2020.
Typically, teams only play twice during each window. Canada's four games reflect rescheduling of the two missed in November.
The top three teams from each group advance to the 2022 AmeriCup. Though the tournament itself is not a major one, missing it automatically leads to disqualification from the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Canada would clinch its AmeriCup spot with three wins in Puerto Rico, but could conceivably still qualify with just one.
Canada to appeal sanctions
Canada Basketball quickly stated its intent to appeal the punishment levied by FIBA. It had 14 days to file the appeal from Jan. 20.
In January, Grunwald said Canada Basketball was looking for increased health protocols such as more testing and longer quarantine periods in order to feel comfortable playing in Puerto Rico.
He cited the Americans' preparations for the previous qualifier, where they were in a bubble with Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico in Indiana for about a week before leaving for their tournament in Colombia.
The defending-champion U.S. team already announced its roster for the February qualifier, including former NBA all-stars Isaiah Thomas and Joe Johnson.
The qualifier has no bearing on the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Canada must win a six-team qualifying tournament scheduled for June 29 — July 4 in Victoria to qualifying for the 2021 Games.
WATCH | CBC Sports' Vivek Jacob, Jevon Shepherd break down FIBA punishment: