DESPITE failing to make it to the Rio Olympics, Canada is looking to build on its experience in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament to further develop its team for international play.
After an impressive performance in the preliminaries, the young Canadian squad fell at the hands of an experienced France side in the finals for the remaining Olympic berth.
Canada though hopes, the loss will only be the start of something big for its basketball program.
“It’s obviously disappointing. I have respect to France. There were just four possessions where they hit shots at the end, where it seemed like back breakers for us. We are a young team and hopefully, we grow and learn from this,” said Canada coach Jay Triano.
“We are going to keep getting better. We have some great talent in our country and appreciate the sacrifice the players made. It is just unfortunate we can’t get the win and have these guys rewarded with becoming Olympians,” said Triano.
The Canadian coach lauded the efforts of his players, particularly those coming from the NBA with Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson fresh from a playoff run with their respective teams.
“I’m proud of the team and how they fought, not just in this game, but throughout the tournament. Being the youngest team here is a good experience for us,” said Triano.
The veteran coach also noted Canada's deep pool of talent that could only get stronger with more experience in international competitions.
“We got great talent. We have NBA players and we got guys who are beginning to be familiar with the international game. It means a lot to the country. We need to get that experience,” he said.
Canada missed the services of a few NBA players in the short qualifiers, including Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the team still swept its way into the semifinals. Canada beat New Zealand, 78-72, before losing to France in the finale.
Triano, though, isn't planning to rest on his laurels despite Canada's impressive showing in recent international competitions, including the Manila OQT.
“We lost two games to Croatia and France, teams that are going to the Olympics. We’re close but we are not there yet. We have to keep working,” Triano said.