June 28th, 2021 Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Canadian Men’s national basketball team addressed the media Monday afternoon on the eve of their 2021 Olympic qualifying bid.

The Canadian team, noted by many as Canada’s best chance at revisiting the Olympics with a team full of NBA experienced players, will take to the court Tuesday afternoon at Save On Foods Arena in game one, Group A action against Greece.

Canada’s has a 20 year-running record, last appearing in the Olympic “big show” in 2000. That will be a record Canada will certainly look to erase this week.

Canada will lean on NBA New York Knicks star RJ Barret and Golden State Warriors Andrew Wiggins despite hosting a Canadian side that will roster a total of 8 active NBA players out of an FIBA-ruled 14 rostered players for the tournament, with a 12-man dressed team per game. It is unannounced at this time as to which 2 players will sit out the opener against Greece.

Canada will be coached by Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, bringing a championship pedigree to the team with a 2019 NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors, 2019 NBA Coach of the Year award, and a 2010 Coach of the Year Award while coaching the G-league’s Iowa Energy.

Photo credit : ClutchPoints – Head Coach Nick Nurse

Looking at his roster, Head Coach Nick Nurse would comment at the pre-tournament press conference the level of talent that Canada will bring to the court.  “I’m happy how the team came together. We’re going to find tomorrow (Tuesday ) who we are and who we can become”.

Canada has not won a medal since the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where they showed a silver medal performance. Canada will have to qualify first, before they can have any aspirations of a medal performance in Tokyo.

Cory Joseph, the veteran point guard with Canada at junior and senior level over the past 13 years, and a current member of the Detroit Pistons, knows what it will take to advance. “We definitely have a lot of talent. That’s very well known, but we’ve had talented groups before and we couldn’t get the job done.” Joseph was referring to the heart-breaking elimination from the 2015 qualifier to the Rio Olympics in Mexico City.  “It still stings. I need to try to get that feeling off.”

“We are going to have to be extremely focused, put it all together and play extremely hard. Basketball is fun first and foremost. We are definitely going to go out there and try to have fun. If we go out there and play hard our talents will show.”

Canada may be the odds-on favorite in the tournament, but Nurse and the Canadian team remain wary of some of the veteran rosters they will be up against. “These teams are experienced. They’ve been together a long time. I was in the 2012 Olympics and I was looking at some of the teams and they have all the same players nine years later, and they were old back then,” Nurse would chuckle.

Coach Nurse’s mindset is clear to his squad, “We want to go out there with the mindset that we need to meet and exceed their (their) opponent’s energy. Every time you come off the floor and can say you played harder than your opponent you give yourself a chance to win.”

Canadian basketball fans will  look forward to experiencing that energy when Canada takes the floor at 4:05 pm at Save-on Foods Arena in Victoria, BC.Cna