Canada's Phil Scrubb struggles for the ball during a Group H match against Lithuania for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in Dongguan in south China's Guangdong province on Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2019. Lithuania won over Canada 92-69. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo

Canada sending a team to Puerto Rico for final FIBA AmeriCup qualifying window

TORONTO — After missing two FIBA AmeriCup 2022 qualifying games due to restrictions around COVID-19, Canada’s men’s basketball team will play in next week’s final window of qualifiers.

Brothers Phil and Thomas Scrubb headline the team coached by Gordie Herbert that was announced Friday for the Feb. 17-21 tournament being held in a “bubble” environment in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“In these extraordinary times, it is a personal choice for our players and staff about whether to participate in this window,” Canada Basketball’s CEO Glen Grunwald said in a release. “I would like to commend each and every one for their commitment to representing our country.”

Canada withdrew from games against Cuba and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Dominican Republic in late November because participating would have contradicted Canada’s health, safety and travel recommendations around COVID-19.

FIBA fined Canada Basketball 160,000 Swiss francs ($227,138) and docked the team a point in the standings for withdrawing, but said half of the fine and loss of the standing point would be erased if Canada played in the final window.

Canada will play the U.S. Virgin Islands and Cuba twice next week to make up for the games missed in November.

Canada Basketball’s appeal to FIBA over the remaining fine is still ongoing, according to a Canada Basketball spokesperson.

The AmeriCup qualifiers feature 16 teams from the Americas zone divided into four groups of four teams who play each other twice. The top three in each group qualify for the 2022 FIBA AmeriCup.

Canada Basketball is playing after consultation with medical personnel, and has worked with FIBA and the local organizing committee to ensure protection of players. Players will be tested daily for COVID-19.

“Our team for this window features a mix of veteran international players, as well as newcomers to the senior men’s national team, as we look to secure our spot in the FIBA AmeriCup 2022,” said Rowan Barrett, general manager of the men’s program.

Canada (1-1) is fourth in Group C along with Cuba (1-2), Dominican Republic (3-1) and U.S. Virgin Islands (1-2).

The Canadians open against the U.S. Virgin Islands on Wednesday.

Group A consists of Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela; Group B includes Brazil, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay; and Group D includes Bahamas, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the USA.

Roster (with postion, hometown and current club):

Anthony Bennett, forward, Toronto, N/A; Aaron Best, guard, Toronto, Toronto, Boulazac (France); Johnny Berhanemeskel, guard, Ottawa, Nanterre (France); Junior Cadougan, guard, Toronto, Fraser Valley Bandits (CEBL); Jadon Cohee, guard, Langley, B.C., Mgzavrebi (Georgia); Kadre Gray, guard, Toronto, Hamilton Honey Badgers (CEBL); Jermaine Haley, guard, Vancouver, University of West Virginia (NCAA); Kaza Kajami-Keane, guard, Ajax, Ont., LeMans (France); Owen Klassen, centre, Kingston, Ont., Boulazac (France); Kyle Landry, centre, Calgary, Ottawa BlackJacks (CEBL); MiKyle McIntosh, forward, Pickering, Ont., LePortel (France); Conor Morgan, forward, Victoria, B.C., Joventut (Spain); Adika Peter-McNeilly, guard, Toronto, Edmonton Stingers (CEBL); Phil Scrubb, guard, Richmond, B.C., Limoges (France); Thomas Scrubb, forward, Richmond, B.C., Boug (France); Grant Shephard, forward, Kelowna, B.C., Carleton University (U Sport).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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