After watching the country come up short at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup this summer, several of Canada’s high-end basketball talents are claiming they are ready to contribute to the cause and help the team qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander announced Tuesday on Twitter that he’s ready to suit up for the red and white to try to get the team to Tokyo.
I've known and made a promise to myself that representing my country is something I will continue to do and as my bro @BeMore27 publicly announced his commitment, I too will be there to do my best to help @CanBball get to Tokyo!— Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (@shaiglalex) November 27, 2019
The 21-year-old Toronto native is in his sophomore NBA campaign, averaging 19.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game while starting all 16 games for the Thunder. He was the 11th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and is in the early stages of a breakout season after being traded to Oklahoma City this past offseason.
He referenced Jamal Murray in his Twitter announcement, fresh off of Murray’s statement made earlier this afternoon that he, too, would be joining the fight to get Canada into the Olympics. Along with Gilgeous-Alexander and Murray, Dillion Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, as well as Chris Boucher of the Toronto Raptors have hinted that they are interested in joining the cause. NBA talents Kelly Olynyk, Cory Joseph, and Khem Birch were a part of this summer’s initial FIBA roster, so Canada has already compiled the beginning of a very talented roster.
Gilgeous-Alexander is not even the lone basketball talent in his family, as his cousin Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a rookie on the New Orleans Pelicans. A few minutes after Shai committed on twitter, Nickeil followed suit.
Excited to announce that I’ll be playing for @CanBball 🇨🇦 this summer. Blessed to be able to represent my country and compete against the best in the world. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid growing up in Toronto. #WeAreTeamCanada— Nickeil Alexander (@TheReal_NAW1) November 27, 2019
The 21-year-old is playing 14.4 minutes per game off the bench for the Pelicans, averaging 6.4 points per game.
The six-team tournament — which Canada must win to qualify — will be partially held on friendly soil. Victoria, BC, is one of four host cities for the tournament, which will be held from June 23-28. The draw for matchups will be held November 27.
Sixteen Canadian players suited up for NBA teams at the start of this season, the second most in the world behind the United States.
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