Canadian men will play Olympic basketball qualifying tournament in Victoria

Canadian men will play Olympic basketball qualifying tournament in Victoria

Hosting an Olympic qualifying tournament for men’s basketball was simply too good an opportunity for Glen Grunwald to pass up.

The Canada Basketball CEO thinks it’s a win-win situation as it was announced on Friday that the nation’s men’s team will play its Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria in June. Canada must win the six-team tournament, June 23-28, to earn a berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The draw will be Nov. 27.

“To be able to play in front of our own fans is always exciting and gives our team a home-court advantage,” said Grunwald from Edmonton, where Canada’s women’s team is hosting an Olympic qualifying tournament this week. “Secondly, it’s an opportunity to not have to play some of the better teams in Europe on their home court. Then in terms of travel it’s less wear and tear on our players and staff.

“Also, the opportunity to grow basketball in this country. Our intention is to leave a great legacy behind in Victoria, the greater Victoria area, and in B.C., both for basketball and for infrastructure.”

As the host country, Japan automatically qualified for the 2020 Games. Seven countries qualified for Tokyo at the FIBA World Cup in China, but missing most of its stars, the Canadian team finished 21st there.

Recruiting NBA players to play internationally has often been a problem for Canada. Although there were 16 Canadians on opening-day rosters in the NBA this season — second only to the United States — Sacramento’s Cory Joseph and Orlando’s Khem Birch were the only NBAers who played for Canada at the World Cup in September.

Grunwald believes that having the qualifying tournament on home soil will help Canada recruit more of its elite players.

“I think it’s a big plus,” said Grunwald. “I think everyone has a positive impression of Victoria, so we’ll enjoy being there. I think it’s a positive factor in a player’s decision to participate.”

At least one Canadian appears to be willing to suit up for the qualifying tournament.

“I plan on being there, I plan on playing regardless of if I get a contract or whatever happens,” Memphis forward Dillon Brooks told the NBA’s website. “I’m going to play for Team Canada because you know I missed out this year and I really want to play and make it to the Olympics.

“It’s something in my basketball career that I want to do — wear that red and white. It’s going to be a special year for us in Canada.”

The six teams in Victoria will be divided into two groups of three with each playing all the other teams in its own group. The top two teams in each group will play in the semifinals. The two semifinal winners will advance to the final, with the winner earning a trip to Tokyo.

An unnamed donor contributed financially to Canada’s bid for the event that will be held at Victoria’s Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. Grunwald says the entire community made hosting the tournament possible.

“Victoria was able to free up the dates in their arena, which was a key thing, and then they put together a very attractive package through some great benefactors in the Victoria area,” said Grunwald. “To be able to host a first-class event there, to make the investment that’s necessary, is critical.”

Another factor was the proud history Victoria has with basketball. The University of Victoria Vikes have long been one of the most dominant collegiate programs in Canada, producing high-calibre players and coaches for decades. Current UVic athletics director Clint Hamilton was also instrumental in Canada’s bid for the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Croatia, Lithuania, and Serbia were also announced as tournament hosts on Thursday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NDP MP Heather McPherson pictured in Edmonton on Friday, March 6, 2020. Alberta’s legislature may have been silenced but its partisan warfare has relocated to the House of Commons as MPs hold an emergency debate tonight on the province’s soaring COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Kenney under fire during Commons emergency debate on Alberta’s COVID-19 crisis

Edmonton New Democrat MP says Kenney ignored the evidence of science

A General Motors sign in Oshawa, Ont., is photographed on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. General Motors Canada says it will start truck production at its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., ahead of schedule. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Oshawa assembly plant restart ahead of schedule, GM Canada says

Closure of plant in 2019 was huge blow to Canada’s manufacturing sector

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2019, file photo, a woman walks by the Australian Embassy in Beijing. China on Thursday, May 6, 2021 suspended an economic dialogue with Australia, stepping up a pressure campaign that began over Australian support for a probe into the origins of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
China suspends economic dialogue with Australia

China’s relations with Australia, India and some other neighbours are increasingly strained

An electric car is seen getting charged at parking lot in Tsawwassen, near Vancouver, Friday, April, 6, 2018. Should Canada introduce a national mandate requiring the auto industry make or sell more zero-emission vehicles is a question facing the Liberal government as it’s not on the road to meet its own sales targets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Should Canada mandate sales targets for electric vehicles? Report says ‘yes’

Parliamentary committee studied how to incentivize the purchase and production of electric vehicles

LtE bug
Letter: Restrictions are a crime against humanity

I was distressed to note the seemingly superficial understanding of the holocaust… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Follow restrictions so pandemic can be behind us

From one who feels that COVID could have been overcome long ago… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Westerner needs help now

I have spent the last few days sifting through many pieces of… Continue reading

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Jets beat Flames 4-0 to snap seven-game losing streak and clinch playoff spot

Most Read