NBA·Preview

Canadian men's basketball team has final shot at Olympics

Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph and rest of the Canadian men's basketball team have one last shot at the Rio Olympics. Here's a breakdown of each nation at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila.

France could be Canadians' top competition in Olympic qualifier

Canada Rising: Cory Joseph's love for the game

6 years ago
Duration 1:32
In this instalment of Canada Rising, Cory Joseph talks about coming from a basketball family, the players who have inspired him, and what he thinks the future holds for the men's national team. 1:32

Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph and rest of the Canadian men's basketball team have one last shot at the Rio Olympics.

After finishing third at the 2015 FIBA Americas — one spot shy of a Rio berth — Canada will take part in a final Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila starting Tuesday.

The qualifying tournament includes group opponents Turkey and Senegal.

Canada takes on Turkey Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. ET, then faces Senegal on Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. ET.

The top two teams in each group advance to the semifinals and will battle for the right at a single spot at the Summer Games in a winner-take-all final.

Here's a look at Team Canada and the rest of the field:

Canada

Cory Joseph was the leading scorer in Canada's opening win. (Ronaldo Schemidt/Getty Images)

Yes, Andrew Wiggins won't be making the trip to Manila. Neither will Nik Stauskas, Jamal Murray or the convalescing Kelly Olynyk.

However, Canada's final roster is dramatically improved by the addition of NBA champion Thompson. The Brampton, Ont. native is a stalwart in the paint and is steadily refining his offensive touch.


Joseph is expected to be the floor general while the team's Europe exhibition tour has given an opportunity for others to step up. Milwaukee Bucks point guard Tyler Ennis will man the point and Baylor University sharpshooter Brady Heslip has led the team in scoring on several occasions, including a 33-point performance against China.

Turkey

Omer Asik, right, will be one of the leaders on the Turkish basketball team. (Ander Gillenea/Getty Images)

Turkey will look to qualify for its first Olympic Games since 1952.

The team is expected to be led by the front-court duo of New Orleans Pelicans centre Omer Asik and former Boston Celtics draft pick Semih Erden.

The world No. 8 squad is also missing its share of NBA talent with Oklahoma City Thunder centre Enes Kanter and forward Ersan Ilyasova not on the Olympic qualification roster.

Be on the watch for American point guard Bobby Dixon, who also holds Turkish citizenship. He was second in team scoring, averaging 15 points per game at the 2015 FIBA Eurobasket tournament.

Senegal


Look for Antoine Mendy and Maleye N'Doye to pick up the slack offensively in the absence of Minnesota Timberwolves forward Gorugi Dieng. Mendy averaged 16.3 points and five rebounds per contest in the 2015 FIBA Afrobasket tournament, while N'Doye averaged 10.9 points and 2.9 rebounds.

France

Tony Parker, left, and Boris Diaw have been mainstays on the French national basketball team. (Emmanuel Dunand/Getty Images)

France's final 12-player squad is headlined by San Antonio Spurs duo Tony Parker and Boris Diaw.

Charlotte Hornets forward Nicolas Batum will be joining the team in Manila after agreeing to a new deal with the NBA club, but is unlikely to play in the opening match since his new contract can't be officially signed until the league's moratorium period ends on Thursday.

Former Toronto Raptors guard and Euroleague MVP Nando de Colo is also on the list. He led France with 13.1 points per game at the 2015 FIBA Eurobasket tournament.

Les Bleus will most likely be Canada's top competition and remains one of the favourites despite missing Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert and former Dallas Mavericks guard Rodrigue Beaubois.

Philippines


The Philippines are looking to punch their ticket to the Olympic Games for the first time in 44 years. The host nation will be led by naturalized citizen Andray Blatche, who made his national team debut at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The 29-year-old was the tournament's leading rebounder (13.8), and tied for second in scoring (21.2). 

The Philippines were runner-ups in the past two FIBA Asia Championships. Captain Jayson Castro played an instrumental role in the team's most recent tournament run, averaging 16.7 points per contest.

New Zealand


The "Tall Blacks" will lean on a squad full of international experience to make their first Olympics since 2004, including eight returning players from the 2014 FIBA World Cup Basketball roster. 

Mika Vukona is one of the returnees, averaging 7.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game at the 2014 tournament, while Corey Webster led the way in scoring with 13.7 points per game.

Webster also led all players at the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championship with 19 points per game.

However, the team will not feature the NBA's most prominent Kiwi: Oklahoma City centre Steven Adams.

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