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Two Quebecers to represent Team Canada basketball at the Paris Olympics



Two Quebecers to represent Team Canada basketball at the Paris Olympics

Quebecers Khem Birch and Luguentz “Lu” Dort will represent the country in the men’s basketball tournament at the Summer Olympic Games in Paris, Basketball Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee jointly announced on Wednesday.

Birch, a six-foot-eight, 233-pound centre, plays for the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA, while Dort, a six-foot-four, 220-pound guard, plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

They will be joined at the basketball tournament by star players RJ Barrett, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jamal Murray, among others.

Canada’s squad includes 11 players who play or have played in the NBA, including captain Kelly Olynyk. Olynyk, currently with the Toronto Raptors, has played 756 games over 11 seasons in the NBA.

The Canadian men’s basketball team managed to qualify for the Olympic Games after finishing in the top two in the Americas region at the FIBA World Cup in 2023.

The Canadians went on to win a historic bronze medal — the first men’s basketball World Cup in the country’s history — with a 127-118 victory over the United States.

“Ever since I started playing basketball, my dream has been to represent Canada at the Olympic Games,” said Olynyk. “Last year’s third-place finish at the FIBA World Cup was an important step, proving that we belong among the best teams in the world. On the other hand, it also showed that we still have work to do to achieve our ultimate goal, which is to win gold in Paris.”

This will be the first time since the Sydney Games in 2000 that Canada’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will compete at the same time at the Olympic Games.

Canada’s only Olympic medal in men’s basketball was won in Berlin in 1936, at a time when the game was very different.

The basketball games will be played from July 27 to Aug. 11.

Canada, led by head coach Jordi Fernandez, will play in Group A against Greece on July 27. They will then cross swords with Australia on July 30 before concluding the group phase against Spain on Aug. 2.

All group stage matches will take place at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. The quarter-finals of the men’s tournament will begin on Aug. 6, and the tournament will move to the Arena Bercy in Paris for the knockout rounds.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on July 10, 2024.   

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