Cory Joseph is expected to be the starting point guard for Canada in Venezuela. (The Canadian Press)It turns out the final cutdown was the easiest exercise of the summer for head coach Jay Triano and the rest of his Canada Basketball coaching staff.
Veteran forward Carl English returned to Canada before the pre-tournament competition in Puerto Rico for personal reasons, leaving the staff to whittle down the roster from 14 players to 12 for the FIBA Americas Championship. Triano had previously mentioned that internal discussions took place throughout camp about the fundamental construction of the team and that style of play would dictate who would make the final roster. Those decisions were ultimately made for them.
“Kyle [Landry]'s injury is another tough loss for our program this summer and we wish him a speedy recovery. At this time we will not have to make any more cuts as Kris Joseph made the difficult decision to leave the team as he has a unique opportunity to play in China. We expect both of these players to be important pieces of our program as we move forward," said Triano through Canada Basketball's press release.
The 12-player roster breakdown by position is as follows: three points guards (Cory Joseph, Jermaine Anderson, Junior Cadougan), five wings (Andrew Rautins, Brady Heslip, Devoe Joseph, Aaron Doornekamp, Jevohn Shepherd), and four big men (Tristan Thompson, Andrew Nicholson, Joel Anthony, Levon Kendall).
A lot of trust is being placed in Thompson and Nicholson, NBA talents that are still unfamiliar with the nuance of international basketball. It's expected they'll be joined in the starting lineup by fellow NBA player Cory Joseph. At shooting guard and small forward, time on the floor will be earned by whoever is getting to open spots on the floor and hitting their jumpers. Anthony provides a strong rim protecting presence that will be valuable throughout the tournament while Kendall can stretch the floor as a big men off the bench.
Canada is 0-3 at the Tuto Marchand Cup, having lost to Puerto Rico, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. Their final exhibition game is Monday night against Brazil before the real games start on August 30th in Caracas, Venezuela when Canada takes on Jamaica. The top four will qualify for next summer's Basketball World Cup.
For the first time, Canada's growing generation of NBA players will be the ones that can push the country to unprecedented basketball heights.