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Canada brings four NBA players to FIBA Americas world championship qualifier

Canadian men’s national team forward Tristan Thompson says excitement about basketball is building in the GTA. Thompson is participating in a men’s national team training camp ahead of the FIBA Americas Championship in Venezuela. (file photo)


Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson will lead Canada's men's basketball team at the upcoming FIBA Americas Championship.

Thompson is one of four NBA players on the team, which also includes Miami centre Joel Anthony, San Antonio point guard Cory Joseph and Orlando forward Andrew Nicholson. It's the first time Canada has had four NBA regulars on its team in FIBA competition.

A total of seven players return from the 2011 team, which was knocked out of the second round of the Americas qualifying tournament for the 2012 London Olympics.

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Guards Jermaine Anderson and Andy Rautins and forwards Aaron Doornekamp, Levon Kendall and Jevohn Shepherd join Anthony and Joseph as returning players.

Other new additions include guards Junior Cadougan, Brady Heslip and Devoe Joseph.

Forwards Anthony Bennett, the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, and Kelly Olynyk will not be available due to injury. Andrew Wiggins, expected to go first overall in 2014, is missing the tournament to prepare for his first year at Kansas.

The team has been further depleted with an injury to European-based forward Kyle Landry and small forward Kris Joseph's decision to pursue an opportunity to play in China.

The FIBA Americas Championship is a qualifying tournament for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. Canada's first game of the tournament is Friday against Jamaica in Caracas, Venezuela.

Canada lost 77-70 to Brazil on Monday night in the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup — a warm-up tournament taking place in San Juan, Puerto Rico before the FIBA Americas Championship kicks off this week.

The Canadian squad was led by Joseph, who finished with a game-high 20 points. Nicholson posted 17 points while Heslip notched 14 in the losing effort.

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