How to judge Canada’s showing at the FIBA World Cup, which wrapped up with an 82-76 loss to a competitive German team in Shanghai on Monday, dropping Canada’s record to 2-3 in the 32-team competition? Well, in the very big picture, it’s an improvement. Canada’s two wins matched their best total at a global championship since 2002. It finished 21st out of 32 teams, compared to 22nd out of 24 at their last worlds in 2010.
But it’s still hard to get over the frustration at what was not accomplished, compared to what was. With 15 NBA players either injured or not making themselves available, Canada missed a chance to compete for a medal and the valuable collective experience that would go along with it. It also missed out on pre-qualifying for the Olympics — the U.S. and Argentina grabbed the two spots available for the Americas — or the chance to significantly improve their world ranking.
It came to China ranked 23rd and will likely stay somewhere around there as it didn’t win any games against a higher-ranked opponent, including Germany ranked 22nd.
There were some positives. Several, actually — head coach Nick Nurse is the right man for the job and Canada’s player pool extends well beyond the NBA — but a lot of questions, too.
With Canada’s tournament in the rearview mirror, here are some final takeaways:
What is next? The minimum Canada needed to get out of its trip to China was a spot in one of four six-team Olympic qualifying tournaments that will be held next summer prior to the Tokyo Games, which begin on July 24. It needed to finish in the top 23, which covers off the next 16 teams after the seven pre-qualifying spots available at the World Cup, so mission accomplished.