How Canada can still make the Olympics despite early World Cup exit

NBA reporter
Yahoo Sports Canada

All is not lost, even after Canada was quickly eliminated from contention at the 2019 FIBA World Cup with two successive losses to Australia and Lithuania in the opening days of the tournament.

The odds were always stacked against them. Canada was not only without their best players, but they were also placed in the Group of Death against two medal contenders in Australia and Lithuania. In both games, Canada entered as the underdogs, and in the end, their shorthanded squad couldn’t pull off the upset.

Having said that, the Canadians will still have a chance to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The path to qualification starts with winning a top-four spot in the World Cup consolation bracket comprised of the bottom 16 teams from the group stages, and even for this depleted roster, that is an obtainable goal.

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Nick Nurse, coach of Canada, in action during the 2019 FIBA World Cup (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)
Nick Nurse, coach of Canada, in action during the 2019 FIBA World Cup (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)

So long as Canada makes it to the semifinals of the consolation round in this year’s World Cup, they will be entered into the Olympic qualifiers. And even if they come up short, there is still an outside chance that FIBA enters Canada as one of two wild cards from the Americas region for the qualifiers held next June.

From there, Canada faces an uphill battle along with 27 other countries for the final four Olympics berths. The Canadians will need to emerge victorious from a group of seven teams held next June, and it’s unclear if Canada will encounter the same issue with securing commitments from their top talents.

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Again, it will be a tall task for Canada to secure their first Olympic berth since Steve Nash led the team in Sydney 2000. Only seven teams from the FIBA World Cup will automatically qualify through the World Cup, with a maximum of two teams per region. That means Canada could very well see teams like Australia and Lithuania standing in their way again next summer.

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