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Nick Nurse looks to end Canada’s Olympic basketball drought

NBA Finals Raptors Warriors Basketball

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse smiles during a news conference in Toronto on Sunday, June 16, 2019. The Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of basketball’s NBA Finals. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

AP

Nick Nurse, who just coached the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title, will now try to lead Canada to its first Olympic men’s basketball berth since 2000.

Nurse said Sunday that “it’s just about done” that he will be named Canada’s head coach ahead of the FIBA World Cup in China in September.

The top two teams from North and South America at the World Cup will qualify for the Tokyo Games (there is also a last-chance qualifying event next year).

The U.S. is the overwhelming favorite to win the World Cup and grab one of those spots. Canada has the talent to join the Americans, but it hasn’t gotten the job done in recent Olympic qualifying.

Four years ago, Canada lost winner-goes-to-Rio games to Venezuela and France.

Canada could easily field a starting five of NBA players, led by 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, Cleveland Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson, Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray and former Duke star R.J. Barrett, a projected top-10 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Nurse, 51, was an assistant coach for Great Britain at the 2012 London Games.

MORE: How U.S. Olympic 3x3 teams will be chosen

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