Canada vs Greece Men’s Olympic Basketball Qualifiers Preview

Tokyo Olympic qualifiers preview: Canada vs Greece

Canada vs Greece will be Canada’s first game in the Olympic qualifying tournament. They will face possibly their biggest adversary in Greece. Greece is one of the three teams that might prevent Canada from making it to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

Canada vs Greece in Men’s Olympic Qualifier

Canada

Players on the Canadian Men’s Basketball Team

The Canadian men’s basketball team qualified for the Olympic qualifiers after being one of the top five of the Americas in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. They finished twenty-first in the FIBA World Cup. This is disappointing, but it is also important to note that not many Canadian NBA players participated in the FIBA World Cup.

There are a total of eight NBA players on the roster. The most notable ones being New York Knicks shooting guard RJ Barrett and Golden State Warriors small forward Andrew Wiggins. In the 2020-21 NBA season, Wiggins averaged 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game.

This is while Barrett averaged 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in the 2020-21 NBA season. There are also other talented players on the roster like Luguentz Dort, Cory Joseph, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

RJ Barrett and Nick Nurse

Barrett will be a key addition to the Canadian men’s national team. He won the gold for the Canadian men’s basketball U-17 team in 2019. This included defeating the U.S. in the semi-finals. This is what Barrett said according to the Canadian Press:

“I always cherish that. No one can ever take that away from me and no one can ever take that away from my country. I say that with great pride,” he said. “It’s also why I’m here right now. I’m trying to bring that feeling back to Canada, bring a medal back home.”

Nick Nurse, the current head coach of the Canadian men’s national team, is also the current head coach of the Toronto Raptors. He has been with the Raptors organization since he became an assistant coach in 2013. Nurse became the head coach before the 2018-19 NBA season began.

He has coached against many of these players on the list. This included Dort, who made an impression on Nurse this year. There was another article that looked at the in-depth roster of the Canadian men’s national team.

The Canadian men’s national team appeared in the Summer Olympics nine times. However, their last appearance in the Olympics was in 2000. Their best performance was getting silver in the 1936 Summer Olympics.

Greece

Performances in preview FIBA World Cup and Summer Olympics

Ranked sixth overall, the Greek men’s basketball team is currently the highest-ranked of six teams in the Victoria Olympics qualifiers. They barely failed to make the quarter-finals stage. They finished with the same record as the Czech Republic in the group stage play. However, the Czech’s had a slightly better points differential than Greece and made it to the quarter-finals stage of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

The last time Greece made the Olympic games was in 2008. In that year, they were eliminated by Argentina by a scoreline of 80-78 in the quarterfinals. They were also the hosts of the Athens Summer Olympics in 2004. Most famously, the Greeks will be remembered for eliminating the Americans from the 2006 FIBA World Cup. Greece ended up losing in the final to Spain 70-47.

Players who played for the Greek Men’s Basketball Team

The Greeks are also known for the three Antetokounmpo brothers that currently play in the NBA. The most notable one include two-times NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo. Also, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, will also not participate in this year’s Olympic qualifiers. This is because both players play for the Milwaukee Bucks, who are currently playing in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

This leaves Greece with only one NBA player. This is Kostas Antetokounmpo, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. Kostas averaged 0.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game in the 2020-21 NBA season. This included getting three points, and one rebound and assist each on April 10 against the Brooklyn Nets.

According to Eurohoops, Kostas has been training with the Greek men’s national team. It is very likely that he will play on June 29 against Canada. Rick Pitino, the current head coach of the Iona Gaels men’s team, will be the head coach of Greece. He also coached the Boston Celtics from 1997-2001.

There are also other notable players from the Greek national team missing including Ioannis Papapetrou and Georgios Printezis. However, one absentee that really hurts Greece is not having Vassilis Spanoulis on the team. He is a decorated Greek national team player who won silver in the 2006 FIBA World Cup. He also won gold in the 2005 EuroBasket and bronze in the 2008 EuroBasket.

Canada vs Greece Olympic Qualifiers Overview

Canada and how they match up with Greece

The Canadians should be the overwhelming favourites in this game. Yes, not all their NBA players are playing in the Olympic qualifiers. But when looking at the best player at every position in these Olympic qualifiers, Canada has the best players.

This is not to underestimate Greece. They have one of the best basketball leagues in the world with the Greek Basketball League. A clear example of this was in 2018 and 2019 with the AEK Basketball Club.  They won the Basketball Champions League in Europe in 2018. This allowed AEK to participate in the 2019 FIBA Intercontinental Cup, which they also won.

This game should not be a blowout. Also, it is important to note that these games are played with FIBA rules, which are a bit different than the NBA rules.

Even still, there is a reason why the NBA is considered the best league in the world. Many of these Canadians are making a huge impact on their teams and will play in comfortable surroundings in Canada. Even with limited fans allowed into the games from July 1 onwards, there is also a comfort that all these players are playing in their home country.

Prediction: Canada wins this game by 15 points.

Nick Nurse vs Rick Pitino

This game could be moderately close at some stages of the game. However, the Canadian men’s basketball team on paper is much better than the Greek men’s basketball team. This is the same case with the head coaches. Credit to Pitino, who accomplished a lot at the college level and also has experience coaching at the NBA level.

However, Nurse right now is considered one of the best head coaches in the NBA right now with a 2019 Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy and a 2020 NBA All-Star Game appearance as a head coach to add to his name. It will be very difficult for Greece to find a way to break down this Canadian men’s basketball team.

This game will be televised nationally on CBC TV at 7:05 p.m. ET on June 29. They will also televise other Olympic qualifiers in Victoria. This includes the Canada vs. China game, which will take place at 7:05 p.m. ET on June 30. All games in Canada’s Olympic qualifiers will take place at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

The winner of these qualifiers in Victoria will go to Group A of the Summer Olympic Games in men’s basketball. Group A currently consists of France, Iran, and the U.S.

Main Photo

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