The Canadian men’s basketball team is grouped with 1995 champions Argentina, Mexico and the Dominican Republic in this summer’s Pan Am Games tournament.
Expected to be boosted by National Basketball Association (NBA) players Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk and Nik Stauskas, Canada is seeking to improve on the bronze medal – its best finish in the tournament started in 1951 – it secured at the 1983 Games in Caracas, Venezuela.
The national side begins play on July 21 against the Dominican Republic. They will close out the round with contests against Argentina the following day and the Mexicans on July 23.
The games will be played at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
“It’s always a privilege to play at home,” said head coach, Jay Triano. “We know we can compete with the best in the world and we plan to show that this summer in Toronto. This is an important competition for our young talented team en route to qualifying for Rio in 2016.”
The other group comprises defending champions Puerto Rico, Venezuela, five-time winners Brazil and the United States, which has won the competition a record eight times.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the semi-finals on July 24. The gold medal game and the contest for the bronze medal take place the following day.
The national women’s side is in the same group with three-time champions Cuba, Argentina and Venezuela, which will be their first game on July 16.
Canada was fifth at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) world championships in 2014.
“Last year ended on a high note for us,” said Lisa Thomaidis, who coaches the women’s team. “This will be another special year for us as we will have the privilege of competing on home soil twice – at the Pan Am Games in Toronto and hosting the FIBA Americas Women championship in Edmonton.”
Defending champions Puerto Rico, the United States and the Dominican Republic are in the other group. The women’s final will be held on July 20.
Canada Basketball is part of the local organizing committee for the Pan Am Games basketball competitions.
“It’s truly an exciting time for basketball in this country and we look forward to Canadian fans coming out to cheer Team Canada,” said executive director, Michelle O’Keefe.