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Canada, France to vie for one Olympic men’s basketball berth

Andrew Wiggins

Canada’s Andrew Wiggins, left, controls the ball under pressure from Mexico’s Juan Toscano, right, during a FIBA Americas Championship basketball game in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)


If Canada is to make its first Olympic men’s basketball tournament since 2000, it will likely have to beat France.

FIBA announced the draws for the three last-chance, six-team Olympic qualifying events in July on Tuesday. The winners of each tournament will round out the 12-team Olympic field, which already has nine spots filled.

Canada, with arguably its most talented pool of players since its last Olympic berth, is in the same qualifying event field as France, the reigning World and European bronze medalist.

In the other two qualifying tournaments, World silver medalist Serbia will host and be favored against a group of five that includes Latvia, which may bring Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis.

Italy hosts the other and could be tested by Croatia, Greece and Mexico.

Canada missed a chance to qualify for the Olympics at the FIBA Americas tournament in September when it was stunned by Venezuela in a winner-goes-to-Rio game.

Canadians in the NBA include Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Nik Stauskas, Cory Joseph and Kelly Olynyk.

France also lost a winner-goes-to-Rio game at EuroBasket on Sept. 17 against Spain. Its roster at the last-chance qualifier -- in the Philippines -- could include NBA players Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw and Rudy Gobert.

Bulls center Joakim Noah, who has not played much for France’s national team, underwent season-ending shoulder surgery last week and is expected to be out for four-to-six months.

MORE: USA Basketball names 30 finalists for Olympic team

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