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Boomers' group of death? Multiple Canadian NBA stars withdraw from FIBA World Cup campaign
As international training camp season moves into top gear, the picture becomes a little bit clearer on who basketball fans can expect to see not only on Australian shores in the coming weeks, but at the World Cup in China later this month.
For the Boomers, initial reactions to the their place in 'Group H' was a mix of anxiousness and excitement, with Canada, Lithuania and Senegal leaving them in the much vaunted 'group of death'.
Canada in particular loomed as a major threat to the Boomers assault on the podium, with their original 29-man squad loaded with NBA talent.
Similar to Australia, Canada is surging through an incredible growth period in the game, with an all-time high in NBA representatives during the 2018/19 season, culminating with the Toronto Raptors claiming the NBA championship in June.
Today, Basketball Canada released the 18-man roster for training camp, with just five NBA players among the group. Jamal Murray (Denver) and RJ Barrett (New York) will attend camp but not be available for the World Cup, similar to Ben Simmons situation with the Boomers.
Other big names to miss the Canadian World Cup squad include Tristan Thompson (Cleveland), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (New Orleans Pelicans), Dillon Brooks (Memphis Grizzlies), Trey Lyles (San Antonio Spurs) among other international stars.
The news is a significant boost to the Boomers' chances of escaping the group stage unscathed, with the veteran-heavy presence in the Boomers starting lineup set to bring a continuity and familiarity that the Canadian team will have to generate in quick time.
Australia will tip off their World Cup campaign against Canada on September 1, though they will also see each other in two exhibition games on August 16 and 17, at Perth Arena.
Canada FIBA 2019 World Cup roster
RJ Barrett (New York Knicks) (injury, not participating in World Cup)
Aaron Best (Riesen Ludwigsburg — Germany)
Khem Birch (Orlando Magic).Chris Boucher (Toronto Raptors)
Oshae Brissett (Toronto Raptors)
Melvin Ejim (BC UNICS — Russia)
Brady Heslip (Istanbul BBSK — Turkey)
Cory Joseph (Sacramento Kings)
Kaza Kajami-Keane (Mitteldeutscher BC — Germany)
Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets) (injury, not participating in World Cup)
Andrew Nembhard (Florida Gators — NCAA)
Duane Notice (Raptors 905 — G League)
Kelly Olynyk (Miami Heat)
Eugene Omoruyi (Oregon Ducks — NCAA)
Kevin Pangos (FC Barcelona Basketball — Spain)
Addison Patterson (Bella Vista Prep — Arizona)
Phil Scrubb, Guard (Zenit Saint Petersburg — Russia)
Thomas Scrubb (Openjobmetis Varese — Italy)
Kyle Wiltjer (Unicaja Malaga — Spain)