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Canada won't have star rookie Andrew Wiggins on Pan American Games team

07/03/2015 11:19 EDT | Updated 07/03/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Between conflicts with the NBA summer league and contract negotiations, most of the marquee names are missing from Canada's basketball tryout roster for the Pan American Games.

Anthony Bennett, Andrew Nicholson and Sim Bhullar are the only three players with NBA experience on Jay Triano's roster announced Friday.

Among the noteable absentees: Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson and Kelly Olynyk.

"Long-term, that's more important to us: the fact that they earn contracts in the NBA, they play at the highest level possible, and then represent Canada when the tournaments count in the summer time," said Triano, Canada's head coach. "It's not ideal for what we were hoping for, but there's not much we can do about it.

"All of our best basketball players are still playing basketball, and that's the most important thing."

Triano had hoped to have as close to identical rosters as he could for the Pan Am Games, which open next Friday, and the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament in early September.

But several key players such as Wiggins, the reigning NBA rookie of the year with Minnesota, and Olynyk have NBA commitments.

"Their teams have said, 'Yeah you could play, but not all summer,'" Triano said. "They want to do work with their players. They want to make sure that they're rested. Those are players that are going to play big roles for the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves."

Thompson, who shone in the NBA playoffs for Cleveland, and Cory Joseph are in the midst of contract negotiations, and so obtaining insurance for them would have been impossible.

The players will participate in a six-day tryout July 12-17 at Air Canada Centre, and then Triano will announce his final 12-man roster.

Canada had 12 NBA players this past season, the second-highest total behind the United States.

Bennett, in Minnesota, and Nicholson in Orlando, have both struggled to find their way in the NBA, and Bhullar made just three very brief appearances for Sacramento in his rookie season.

Beyond the NBA content, Triano's team includes a mixed group of veterans playing in Europe such as Jermaine Anderson and Carl English, and rising young stars such as 18-year-old Jamal Murray. Triano purposefully kept Murray off Canada's U19 team for the world championships so he could focus on Pan Ams.

"He's taken off as a basketball player," Triano said of Murray, who will play college basketball for the Kentucky Wildcats. "We want to introduce him to our national team and what better way to do that than have him participate in Toronto when we have a major event here?"

Triano expects his roster for Olympic qualifying to be significantly different, and said that Canada Basketball will have staff monitoring the players in the summer league in Las Vegas.

"The Olympic qualifying tournament, it's no secret, is a big event for us," Triano said. "Our veterans know that, our players in the NBA, even the NBA teams know that. That's why some of have chosen to play in that event and not in the Pan American Games.

"At the same time, we're going to do whatever we can to win a medal at the Pan American Games and to watch these players develop."

The Pan Am men's basketball competition runs July 21-25 at Ryerson University's Mattamy Athletic Centre.

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Tryout roster:

Jermaine Anderson, TBB Trier (Germany), Toronto; Olu Ashaolu, Hamamatsu Phoenix (Japan), Brampton, Ont.; Anthony Bennett, Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA), Toronto; Sim Bhullar, Sacramento Kings (NBA), Toronto; Dillon Brooks, University of Oregon (NCAA), Mississauga, Ont.; Junior Cadougan, Sidigas AV (Italy), Toronto; Aaron Doornekamp, Fraport Sky (Germany), Odessa, Ont.; Melvin Ejim, Bayreuth (Germany), Toronto; Carl English, AEK Athens (Greece), Paradise, N.L.; Devoe Joseph, Cholet (France), Pickering, Ont.; Daniel Mullings, Bayreuth (Germany), Toronto; Jamal Murray, Orangeville Prep (High School), Kitchener, Ont.; Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic (NBA), Toronto; Dyshawn Pierre, University of Dayton (NCAA), Whitby, Ont.; Thomas Scrubb, Carleton University (CIS), Richmond, B.C.; Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga University (NCAA), Portland, Ore.

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