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FIBA Basketball World Cup

FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019: Take a deep breath, Canada — the Senior Men's National Team will be alright

#Cory Jo

Team Canada opened up their training camp for the FIBA Basketball World Cup on Monday. 19 players showed up, but the list of who wasn't there or who won't be participating when Canada takes on the world at the end of the month would've probably medalled at the World Championships.

MORE: Canada announces training camp roster

Andrew Wiggins, Dwight Powell and Tristan Thompson all pulled out prior to the finalized list being revealed Monday. RJ Barrett and Jamal Murray will both be in camp but won't participate in China. A handful of other NBA players who were included in the initial invitee list have pulled out.

It's easy to look at the turnout and be disappointed. Most Canadian basketball fans were looking forward to the potential of fielding a full roster of NBAers for the first time ever, but it won't happen just yet. However, instead of looking at the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup as a missed opportunity before it even starts, we should use this time to give credit to those who continue to show up and wear the national team colours year in and year out.

Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk and Melvin Ejim have been at the core of the national team's uprising for years now, and they will continue to be.

Joseph, who was rumoured to be on the fence about playing this summer, is now all in once again for his country. Joseph has appeared in nine FIBA tournaments - seven as a senior. He's made himself available whenever Canada came calling since 2011 and he's played every role possible for the team since then.

While he's not known for scoring, Joseph has twice led Canada in points per game at FIBA events, once in 2013 (16.1), the other time in 2016 (19.2). In 2015 when there was more scoring available in the form of Andrew Wiggins, he led the team in assists (5.7).

In a summer where Cory Jo would've had multiple excuses not to play - especially given his commitment to the team in the past - he's once again there and ready to battle for his country.

"Everybody's a grown man, they've gotta make their own decision for what's best for them and their family," Joseph told the media via TSN's Josh Lewenberg.

"I can only control what I do. I'm here and I still think we have a strong chance to qualify. It is what it is."

The same goes for Olynyk and Ejim. Whenever asked, Olynyk has been committed to being apart of the national team program. He has been with the National Team program five times at FIBA events since 2010. For him, it's all about national pride.

"It's just something that I've always done, always loved to do. To be able to compete for your country, help your country out, put your country on the map, it's something special," Olynyk told reporters.

"To put on a jersey with Canada on the front, it's a prideful thing."

Whether you like it or not, this is the group Canada will go to the World Championships with in about three weeks. It's not the strongest side the country could produce, but it's still a side that as of Monday afternoon has the fifth-best odds to win the World Cup according to BetOnline.

Odds to Win the 2019 FIBA World Cup via BetOnline
Team Current Odds
USA 1/3
Serbia 7/2
Spain 16/1
Greece 20/1
Canada 33/1
France 33/1
Australia 40/1
Lithuania 50/1
Argentina 80/1
Italy 100/1

*Odds as of Aug. 5, 2019

If the results fall the way BetOnline has it mapped out, Canada would qualify for next summer's Olympics in Japan by finishing as a top-two team from the Americas zone.

If qualifying for the Olympics is the goal and this team still has a legitimate chance of achieving it, why are most complaining? It's OK to be disappointed in the turnout - I'm sure most countries are - but as Cory Joseph said: "It is what it is."

Canada still has a chance at breaking through in China, all isn't lost. They still have an NBA championship head coach, players with great FIBA experience and enough talent to still be considered amongst the top five teams to win it all.

Take a deep breath, Canada, it's going to be OK.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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