Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, left, shares a laugh with Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) while playing against the Golden State Warriors during second half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. Twenty-nine players were invited to Canada’s training camp ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the head coach — fresh off of leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title — has to prepare his group for a long six week of tough basketball. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse preparing Canada for long FIBA World Cup run

Playing in the World Cup amounts to a six-week commitment from players

Nick Nurse is going to prepare Canada’s men’s basketball team for a long haul.

A group of 29 players — including 17 NBAers — were invited to Canada’s training camp on Tuesday ahead of the FIBA World Cup. The Canadians will play a pair of exhibition games in Toronto and Winnipeg before five more games in Australia before travelling to China for the international tournament that will be held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15.

Nurse, fresh off of an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors, wants Canada to be in the final.

“It’s a talented group of guys. If these guys can gel, we can go as far as we want to go,” said Nurse. “But there’s some work to do. We’ve got to get together, we’re going to have to develop a really tough mentality defensively, we’re going to have to develop a selfless, hit-the-open-man offensive mentality.

“When you start doing those things who knows where you can go. But my objective is to win.”

Rowan Barrett, Canada’s general manager of men’s high performance teams, said depth will be one of the critical components of his roster. Canada had the second-most players in the NBA to start the 2018 season behind only the United States.

That number is expected to grow this fall after six Canadians were selected in the NBA draft, a new record for most players picked from any country outside the U.S. in a single draft.

Playing in the World Cup amounts to a six-week commitment from players, with Canada opening its two-game exhibition series against Nigeria in Toronto on Aug. 7 and then playing in Winnipeg on Aug. 9.

After those two games the Canadians will travel to Australia for a five-game exhibition series against Australia (Aug. 16-17), New Zealand (Aug. 20-21) and the Americans (Aug. 26) before heading to China for the tournament itself.

READ MORE: Ex-Raptor Danny Green says bags stolen in Downtown Eastside

Basketball Canada said a finalized list of training camp attendees will be announced prior to the start of camp.

“I think to give our team the best chance that we have to be successful we need to have those commitments and have the players in,” said Barrett. “If you’re in, you need to show up on that first day and let’s get going, let’s get started.”

Jamal Murray is the biggest name invited to play for Canada at the tournament.

He averaged 18.2 points and 4.8 rebounds for Denver this past season, guiding the upstart Nuggets to within a game of the Western Conference finals. The 22-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., agreed to a five-year, US$170 million contract extension with Denver on July 1, the richest deal for a Canadian player in NBA history.

R.J. Barrett, who was drafted third overall by the New York Knicks this summer, is also on the list of invitees. The son of Rowan Barrett and godson of Canadian basketball legend Steve Nash, the younger Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists for Duke University last season.

Other notables include Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and Miami Heat centre Kelly Olynyk.

Former No.1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins was not invited to the camp. He averaged 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“We’ve had some conversations with him. At the end, it’s come out to him not feeling like this was the right time for him,” said Barrett. “We have to respect that and from now we’ll move forward and we’ll focus on, and respect, all the other players that have decided to play and focus on them moving forward.”

Things won’t get any easier at the World Cup, with Canada in a group with Australia, Lithuania, and Senegal, considered by many to be the toughest group in the tournament.

“I know that we’re playing some physical teams,” said Nurse who was an assistant coach for Great Britain from 2009-12, including the 2012 London Olympics. “I’ve coached many times against Lithuania in the past and a few times against Australia. Their trademark is physicality. We’re going to have to understand that going in. We have to be ready and to play through some physicality”

___

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Adverse weather forces ferry schedule change

Thursday’s Skidegate to Prince Rupert route affected

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Coast Mountain College announces interim president

Ken Burt, current president and CEO, will say goodbye to CMNT come September

Queen Charlotte crackdown

RCMP target impaired driving amidst rising numbers of the offence

Australian gold mining giant acquires Red Chris mine

Newcrest now owns 70 per cent of the mine south of Iskut and operatorship

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town hit by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

Most Read