Canada Falls to Venezuela in FIBA Americas Semifinal, 2016 Olympics Now in Doubt | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Friday / July 19.
  • Canada Falls to Venezuela in FIBA Americas Semifinal, 2016 Olympics Now in Doubt

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    andrew-wiggins1.jpg?w=600&h=425By JOSH NEWMAN

    The Canadian National Team blew a 7-point fourth quarter lead and fell in controversial fashion to Venezuela Friday night in a FIBA Americas semifinal, 79-78, in Mexico City.

    Venezuela is through to the 2016 Rio Olympics, while Canada will have to go through the World Qualifying Tournament next summer to get to Rio.

    “It’s very disappointing, obviously. Our dreams have been put on hold,” said Head Coach Jay Triano.

    “They out-hustled us, they out-worked us,” team captain Cory Joseph said. “I didn’t lead my team today. I’m disappointed. It happens.”

    With that said, did Canada lose its best chance at Olympic qualification on Friday night?

    Next summer’s World Olympic Qualifying Tournament will feature 18 teams, five of which are coming from EuroBasket. The top three teams from the event, which runs July 5-11 at a site that is TBD, will be through to the Olympics.

    As a point of reference, of the six teams to qualify for the Olympics through World Qualifying between 2008 and 2012, five of them came out of Europe.

    Canada, which got 34 points and 13 rebounds from third-year Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk, was bidding to advance to the Olympics for the first time since 2000, when Steve Nash led it to a seventh-place finish in Sydney.

    Triano, a Trail Blazers assistant, has held steady in his belief dating all the way back to Feb. 2014 that the future of Canadian hoops is bright and that it would include the country’s growing stable of NBA talent.

    That notion is still on the table, but it will be tough sledding in 2016. This summer, Tristan Thompson sat out FIBA Americas due to his free agency and contract status being uncertain, but up-and-coming young NBA talent like 20-year-old reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas, Andrew Nicholson, Anthony Bennett and Olynyk all bought in.

    Canada was without University of Kentucky freshman point guard Jamal Murray, who had to be on campus in Lexington by a certain date. The 18-year-old had a monster Pan American Games in helping the Canadians to a silver medal. The run to silver included a semifinal win over the United States in which Murray scored all of his 22 points between the fourth quarter and overtime. 

    Keep in mind that the World Qualifying Tournament will be contested in the middle of NBA Summer League. With that, Wiggins, Stauskas and other young players could have conflicts.

    Murray is projected as the No. 6 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft by DraftExpress, so he is another one that could potentially face an NBA-Team Canada conflict if he needs to be at Summer League.

    Follow Josh Newman on Twitter

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