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NBA: Wiggins not joining Canada in Manila tilt

MONTREAL (AFP) – Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Andrew Wiggins has opted out of Team Canada duty as the country makes a last-gasp bid to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Toronto Raptors guard Cory Joseph headlines the preliminary squad released on Friday by Basketball Canada for the July 5-10 qualifying tournament in the Philippines.

“After much thought, consideration and speaking with my family, I will not be participating in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament with the Canadian Men’s National Team in July,’’ Wiggins said in a statement. ‘‘As my third NBA season approaches, I understand my increased role with the Timberwolves and dedication to the upcoming season must have my total focus.

‘‘We are building a championship contending team, which has always been my goal. This was definitely not an easy decision and I fully support and wish Team Canada nothing but success this summer.’’

The Timberwolves are hoping to keep climbing after hiring former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau to lead the team.

Wiggins is a key figure on the young team after winning NBA Rookie of the Year honours two seasons ago and averaging 20.7 points last season.

Wiggins’s decision comes after two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors announced he won’t play for the United States in Rio.

Other US NBA stars who will miss the Games for fitness reasons include San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis of New Orleans, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and John Wall of the Washington Wizards.

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