Nick Nurse will coach the men’s senior team when it hosts Nigeria in a two-game exhibition series ahead of the FIBA World Cup. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Nurse to debut as Canada’s men’s coach at home with games against Nigeria

TORONTO — Nick Nurse will make his Canadian basketball coaching debut at home next month as the men’s senior team hosts Nigeria in a two-game exhibition series ahead of the FIBA World Cup.

Basketball Canada announced Monday that the two-game series will take place Aug. 7 at Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto and Aug. 9 at Winnipeg’s Bell MTS Place.

Nurse, who led the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA Championship title less than a month ago in his first year behind the bench, was named head coach of Canada’s senior men’s team two weeks ago.

The 51-year-old Iowa native is tasked with trying to lead the men’s team to their first Olympics since 2000 when the FIBA Basketball World Cup starts Aug. 31 in China.

Canada would need a first- or second-place finish in the Americas zone at the World Cup to earn a direct berth into the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Nurse’s contract with Canada Basketball will take him through to the end of the Olympics.

Canada qualified for the World Cup by finishing 10-2 in the Americas Qualifiers, with 36 different players competing on the Canadian team over the course of the six-competition qualifying window.

Canada will travel to Australia after the two games against Nigeria for a five-game exhibition series with Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

This year’s World Cup will be the biggest edition of FIBA’s flagship event with a record 32 teams playing 92 games over 16 days.

Canada is in Group H with Senegal, Lithuania and Australia for the tournament.

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