FIBA World Cup: Nurse guarantees Joseph will play for Canada

Cory Joseph.
Cory Joseph's status for the FIBA World Cup remains a mystery. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston).

Cory Joseph is back on the Team Canada train Wednesday and apparently never left despite a report to the contrary on Tuesday. Doug Smith of the Toronto Star had the initial report but John Casey — an Australian journalist currently covering the Aussie stint of Canada’s preparations — spoke with head coach Nick Nurse and the veteran point guard already has flights booked to China.

“He’s on a flight, he’s actually getting to China before the team does,” Nurse said ahead of the second game of a back-to-back against New Zealand. “He’s 100 percent still coming, spoke to him myself this morning. I’m not sure where that speculation or report came from but it just ain’t true.”

Let’s recap for a second.

After several NBA players dropped out of the initial roster list of 29 for Team Canada, Cory Joseph stayed. After Jamal Murray and R.J. Barrett confirmed they would only take part in training camp in Canada and not be part of the team thereafter, Joseph stayed. Then longtime international partner-in-crime Kelly Olynyk hurt himself in the team’s opening friendly against Nigeria and that’s when Joseph’s status went up in limbo.

He did play the second game against Nigeria, a loss, but did not make the trip to Australia and has missed the doubleheaders against both The Boomers and New Zealand’s Tall Blacks.

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During the second exhibition game against Australia, the broadcast said Nurse told them Joseph was expected to meet the team in Sydney and that he would definitely be part of the team going to China. Now, it appears that he will not make it to Australia at all. Canada has one friendly remaining against Team USA on Monday in Sydney before making its way to Dongguan in China to kick off its World Cup campaign against Australia on Sept. 1.

Adding to the overall uncertainty heading into the World Cup is the continued absence of Brady Heslip, who also hasn’t joined the team since the Canada leg of their preparations, as well as the health status of Kaza Kajami-Keane and Andrew Nembhard, who both picked up separate injuries in each of the games against New Zealand.

Despite all that, the team has done well to post a 3-1 record through the Australian portion of their preparations and regardless of what Heslip ends up doing from here, the extra minutes all the guards have received as a result of their absences should serve them well for whichever role they end up being asked to play.

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