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Canada's team aiming for medal at U19 world basketball championships

06/26/2015 10:40 EDT | Updated 06/26/2016 05:59 EDT
CRETE, Greece - Expectations are high any time a Canadian basketball team steps on the court these days.

Canada's under-19 team hopes to live up to the challenge at the world championships that tip-off Saturday in Greece.

"I think our goal as a Canadian basketball team is always to win a medal," said Canada's head coach Roy Rana. "Every time out now that should be our goal."

Dillon Brookes, Christopher Egi, Corey Johnson, Nevell Provo and Drew Urquhart return from leading Canada to a best-ever silver medal at last summer's 2014 FIBA Americas U18 tournament.

The one notable absence is Jamal Murray, who announced this week he was headed to the Kentucky Wildcats this fall. Murray is focusing on training for the Pan American Games.

Rana, who coached a star-studded Canadian squad that included Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Kevin Pangos to bronze at the 2010 world under-17 championships, likes the makeup of this team.

"I'm very excited about these guys, we have a chance to be a really special team, and that's what you always hope for," Rana said. "But they're great kids, they're a lot of fun to be around, they've been great in their approach. When you have that kind of group, you hope that things go well and you can get a good result."

The Canadians open Saturday in Crete against Australia, a team they lost 78-69 to in a friendly last week.

They face Tunisia on Sunday, then play Italy on Tuesday before crossing over for the second of the group phases.

The top eight teams in the 16-country tournament after the two group phases advance to the knock-out round.

Canada is ranked third in the world in the FIBA men's age-group rankings.

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