(Instagram/@canadabasketballofficial)

Victoria basketball fans will get an opportunity to observe the recent uptick in Canadian talent next month, as Canada hosts China in exhibition play.

On Sunday, June 24, at 5 p.m., Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre will be full of hardwood and hoops, and will open its doors to the Inaugural Pacific Rim Basketball Classic.

Tickets go on sale Thursday, May 31, at 10 a.m.

It marks the first time in eight years that British Columbia has hosted the men’s senior team. And though the nation’s brightest star in Andrew Wiggins is not attending, it will still showcase the deepest men’s basketball team B.C. has ever seen.

Eight of the 11 Canadian NBA players will wear the maple leaf, which, considering there were only two Canadians in the entire NBA just 13 years ago in 2005 (Steve Nash and Jamaal Magloire), offers a simple metric for the progression of Canadian basketball.

Victorians could be treated to an all-NBA starting lineup, which would have been laughable just a decade ago.

It could also be the start of a long relationship with Basketball Canada, as they search for ways to engage with Western Canadian basketball fans. Since the Vancouver Grizzlies left in 2001, elite basketball has not been a consistent commodity in the west. If the Pacific Rim Basketball Classic continues to punctuate B.C.’s yearly calendar, it could go a long way down the road toward re-establishing a basketball presence in Canada’s “other” market.

Just three players hail from British Columbia, with the majority of the roster comprised of Ontarians and a few Quebecois.

Still, there is one significant British Columbian influence on the squad, in the form of head coach Jay Triano. The former Raptors bench boss played at Simon Fraser University (SFU) from 1977-1981, and eventually coached them for seven years from 1988–1995.

“Some of the fondest memories of my basketball career are from all the years I spent playing and coaching in British Columbia,” said Jay Triano. “Vancouver and Victoria have some of the most passionate basketball fans in the country and we’re excited to bring our team back to the West coast.”

Not a bad endorsement from the only Canadian head coach in NBA history.

After the two-game exhibition set in B.C., the Canadian team will look toward their 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifying campaign, where they play Dominican Republic on June 29th and U.S. Virgin Islands on July 2.

Canadian Men’s National Team roster

Anthony Bennett

Forward

6’8″

Toronto, ON Maine Red Claws (G-League)
Aaron Best

Guard

6’4″

Scarborough, ON Raptors 905 (G-League)
Khem Birch Centre

6’9″

Montreal, QC Orlando Magic
Chris Boucher

Forward

6’10”

Montreal, QC Golden State Warriors
Dillon Brooks

Forward

6’7″

Mississauga, ON Memphis Grizzlies
Melvin Ejim

Forward

6’6″

Toronto, ON BC UNICS (Russia)
Olivier Hanlan

Guard

6’4″

Aylmer, QC Austin Spurs (G-League)
Brady Heslip

Guard

6’2″

Burlington, ON Trabzonspor (Turkey)
Cory Joseph

Guard

6’3″

Toronto, ON Indiana Pacers
Kaza Kajami-Keane

Guard

6’2″

Ajax, ON Raptors 905 (G-League)
Jamal Murray

Guard

6’4″

Kitchener, ON Denver Nuggets
Andrew Nicholson

Forward

6’9″

Mississauga, ON Guangdong Southern Tigers (China)
Kelly Olynyk

Centre

7’0″

Kamloops, BC Miami Heat
Kevin Pangos

Guard

6’1″

Holland Landing, ON BC Zalgiris (Lithuania)
Dwight Powell

Forward

6’9″

Toronto, ON Dallas Mavericks
Phil Scrubb

Guard

6’3″

Richmond, BC Fraport Skyliners (Germany)
Tommy Scrubb

Forward

6’5″

Richmond, BC S.S. Felice Scandone (Italy)
Tristan Thompson

Centre

6’9″

Toronto, ON Cleveland Cavaliers

*Notable absences: Tyler Ennis, Nik Stauskas, Andrew Wiggins, Trey Lyles

Pacific Rim Basketball Classic – Canada vs. China

  • Where: Save-On Foods Memorial Centre
  • When: Friday, June 24, 5 p.m.
  • Tickets: Here

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