Andrew Wiggins not on Canada's roster for Olympic qualifier
Former NBA No. 1 pick leads list of noticeable absences
Andrew Wiggins will not be on Canada's basketball roster for a last-chance tournament, as the team looks to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Basketball Canada released their preliminary roster Friday for the qualifier in the Philippines, headlined by Toronto Raptors guard Cory Joseph.
However, the list did not include Vaughan, Ont. Wiggins, who according to a release from his agent is choosing to focus on the upcoming NBA season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Correcting typo of earlier tweet with Wiggins statement released through agent Bill Duffy Associates <a href="https://t.co/Lxt6CSvSr9">pic.twitter.com/Lxt6CSvSr9</a>—@JerryZgoda
The six-day training camp opened Friday at the Air Canada Centre. General manager Steve Nash said that player availability could change.
"We're continuing to talk to teams and players may become available as the summer progresses," Nash said in a press release. "Playing for your country is an honour, we have a deep pool of talent who are committed to playing for Canada and we're ready to get to work."
Several other notable Canadian players were off the list:
- Kelly Olynyk (surgery)
- Tristan Thompson (playing in NBA final)
- Jamal Murray (NBA draft)
- Nik Stauskas (omitted)
- Anthony Bennett (omitted)
Detroit Pistons forward Joel Anthony, and Milwaukee Bucks guard Tyler Ennis are the only NBA players in camp in addition to Joseph.
Basketball fans on social media voiced their displeasure with Wiggins' decision not to play for Canada:
How is Canada's national basketball team ever going to accomplish anything if players like Wiggins don't participate? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Weak?src=hash">#Weak</a>—@SatiarShah
Andrew Wiggins has betrayed me personally.—@dlbno
Andrew Wiggins isn't playing for Team Canada in the Olympic Qualifiers 😑..... <a href="https://t.co/RZIkZMxedz">pic.twitter.com/RZIkZMxedz</a>—@Mack_Hayes
The last-chance Olympic qualifier is July 5-10 in Manila, where Canada will play in Group A against Senegal and Turkey. The Philippines, France and New Zealand are in Group B.
Canada must win the tournament to earn a berth in the Rio Olympics. The Canadian men are looking for the first Olympic appearance since 2000.
Westbrook, Harden bowing out
Russell Westbrook and James Harden said they won't play in the Olympics, leaving the U.S. basketball team without two more of its best players.
Westbrook said Friday that he decided not to play after talking with his family. He didn't give a reason for pulling out in his statement released through the Thunder.
Westbrook, a first-team All-NBA selection, won gold medals with the U.S. in the 2012 Olympics and 2010 world basketball championship. His withdrawal comes days after MVP Stephen Curry also said he wouldn't play.
Harden played for the U.S. when it won gold in the 2012 Olympics and 2014 Basketball World Cup and says in a statement released by the Houston Rockets that the experiences were some of the "most meaningful personal and professional accomplishments of my life."
The All-Star guard did not give a reason for his decision but says he hopes to get the opportunity to play again.
With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press