Wiggins joining Canada for Olympic qualification push

Andrew Wiggins

As the Canadian men's basketball team attempts to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in two decades, "Maple Jordan" will be there to help.

Warriors wing Andrew Wiggins on Monday revealed on Instagram that he will play for his country this summer.

Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Greece, Turkey and Uruguay will play in a six-team, two-group tournament in Victoria, British Columbia beginning June 29. The top two seeds from each group advance to the semi-finals after a round-robin group stage, and the winner will qualify for a spot in Tokyo.

Canada's men's basketball team hasn't qualified for the Olympics since 2000.

Wiggins has played for Canada before, leading the national team in scoring (15.1 points per game) en route to a bronze medal at the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship. That was after the Canadian's rookie season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he's likely to have much more confidence following his second campaign with the Warriors.

The 26-year-old emerged as an effective 1-on-1 defender this season, holding opponents to career-low shooting percentages from just about every spot on the floor. For the first time in his career, players guarded by Wiggins shot worse from the field (minus-2.0 percentage points) and beyond the 3-point arc (minus-0.8 percentage points) than when he wasn't guarding them.

Wiggins also averaged 18.6 points per game on a career-best 47.7 percent shooting from the field and 38.0 percent on 3-pointers. He likely will be an offensive focal point for Canada in a way he wasn't for the Warriors -- especially with Jamal Murray out -- but Wiggins and the Canadians have to be among the favorites to advance to the Olympics.

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If Wiggins makes it to Tokyo, he might not run into many of his Warriors teammates. Steph Curry sounded unsure about playing in his first Olympics, although Draymond Green is among the 57 finalists for the United States' team.

Mexico will play in a qualifying tournament in Split, Croatia next month, and it's conceivable Juan Toscano-Anderson will suit up then. The Mexicans face a difficult path to qualification, playing in a group with Germany and Russia. Brazil and Croatia are on the other side of the bracket, and at least one of those countries qualified for each of the last two Olympics.

If "Maple Jordan" has a say, Canada will, too.

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