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Like the Philippines and a slew of other nations, Canada admits that the new format of FIBA qualifier for the 2019 World Cup in China will pose a serious challenge in coming up with a team that can be truly competitive during the two-year period.
“It’s going to be tricky for us for sure,” said Canada squad team manager and two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash during yesterday’s press conference at the Sofitel Hotel.
The world governing body for basketball will start the implementation of its new format next year when all national teams will play in a home-and-away competition in their respective FIBA zones.
The said FIBA format will run for two years, as teams will have to gain points to improve their chances of earning spots for the World Cup. The format was approved by FIBA last year.
“Lots of our talents are in the NBA, so that makes it difficult,” said the 6-foot-2 Canadian legend, who earned MVP honors. Faced with that possibility, the 42-year-old Nash, who also played for the Dallas Mavericks and ended his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, feels Canada will have to settle for players who ply their trade in Europe.
“We’re going to have a big squad of European players (Canadian players seeing action in Europe), college players, and whatever it means possible,” said Nash, who represented his country in various international tournaments including a stint in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
With Gilas Pilipinas set for disbandment, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has decided to tap top college players to comprise the next batch of national team mainstays.
“It’s a new landscape, we have to figure it out. But we’ll definitely have a bigger, deeper squad or pool of players that we can draft,” added Nash, who owns career averages of 17.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 8.8 assists.
During the FIBA qualifying for the 2019 worlds, the NBA will be in full swing where many Canadian national players see action.
Like the Canadians, the Philippines will also be severely affected as most of the national team stars are tied with their respective clubs in the PBA, forcing the SBP to recruit collegiate stars instead.