Canada counts on huge pool of players to get to 2019 World Cup

Joel Anthony leads country at Ameri-Cup tournament

Canada counts on huge pool of players to get to 2019 World Cup

Joel Anthony rarely turns down a chance to suit up for Canada.

The 35-year-old from Montreal will lead Canada’s men’s basketball team at the FIBA AmeriCup tournament that tips off Sunday in Argentina, which is preparation for qualifying for the 2019 World Cup in China.

“I really do just love the opportunity to represent my country,” said Anthony, a 10-year NBA veteran. “It’s like coming back home. I’m usually in the States so to be able to come back and be with everyone, see old friends, it’s kind of like Thanksgiving. I enjoy it.”

FIBA has completely overhauled the qualifying format for both the World Cup and Olympics, and the new schedule, with games falling smack dab in the middle of the NBA season, calls for some creative personnel moves.

So while Anthony and fellow NBA veteran Andrew Nicholson might be on Canada’s roster in Argentina, they know they’re part of a revolving door of Canadian players, and there’s no telling what the roster will look like if Canada qualifies for the World Cup.

“It’s a reality,” Anthony said. “It’s something that the guys understand. It’s obviously a different format, something no one’s ever seen before so it’s hard to say (whether it will benefit Canada or not). With us, honestly, it could be more difficult because of our presence in the NBA now, and them not being able to play during different parts of the tournament season.”

This FIBA AmeriCup has become merely an exhibition tournament, which no qualifying ramifications. Qualifying for the 32-team World Cup now features a two-round tournament of home and away games. The World Cup, in turn, is a major qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Canada is in Group D in the Americas zone for World Cup qualifying, with first-round games against the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic. Canada will host the Bahamas on Nov. 24 in Halifax in their first qualifier.

Roy Rana, Canada’s head coach for both the FIBA AmeriCup and the Halifax game, said the program’s revolving-door of players has bought into the new format.

“Some of this is really just understanding the nature of the new qualifying format, that in itself is a challenge,” said Rana, who coached Canada’s U19 team to a world title last month. “They’re going to have to be invested in a different way because we’re going to have such a larger pool of players available, just as there is for coaches. This has opened a unique opportunity for myself just as it has for some of them.”

Jay Triano remains the men’s head coach, but handed the reins to Rana for upcoming qualifiers because of a conflict with the NBA season. Triano is an assistant with the Phoenix Suns.

“There’s a tremendous amount of trust between us, we have some great basketball conversations,” Rana said of his relationship with Triano. “He’s been really, really good at allowing me to use my own strengths and some of the things I’ve done with teams, and blending in a lot of the things he’s done with his team. It’s all about a community. It’s not about my way, it’s about ‘let’s find the best way.’”

Canada’s first-round World Cup qualifying will see them play at the Dominican Republic on Nov. 27. They’ll be back in action in February with games at the Virgin Islands and Bahamas. The next block of games are next summer, with the top three countries after the first round advancing to the second.

Triano said the new format will take some getting used to, but on the plus side gives players the rare chance to play games at home. Also, the expanding player pool has allowed newcomers such as Ammanuel Diressa, a standout with Rana’s Ryerson Rams team, and Grandy Glaze, who’s toiled in the NBA’s G-League for five seasons, a chance to pull on the Canadian jersey.

“Certainly Grandy Glaze is one that people in Canada aren’t familiar with and just has this unique energy to him and a toughness that will have a major impact on this group,” Rana said. “I’m proud about Manny Diressa… I’ve said over and over I think he’s one of the most talented guards I’ve coached, and I’m happy to see everyone else is seeing that now.”

Canada tips off the FIBA AmeriCup against the Virgin Islands on Sunday, then plays Argentina on Monday and Venezuela on Tuesday. The semifinals are Sept. 2 and the final is Sept. 3.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

The O’Meara family – (left to right) Mari, Max, Adam and Rei – spent Saturday afternoon picking out the perfect tree. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Santa’s Forest tree sale in Saanich implements one-way perusing, curbside pick up

Christmas tree, wreath sales in Braefoot Park through Dec. 24

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

(Black Press Media file)
Webinars help Greater Victoria residents affected by dementia prepare for the holidays

COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions can add additional challenges for people living with dementia

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read