Pan Am basketball has Andrew Wiggins excited
It won’t be in a Raptors jersey, but local fans may see Andrew Wiggins play basketball in home colours very soon in Toronto.
Wiggins, the first overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft and a player on the rise in a global sport that prizes marketable superstars, gave a hint that he may be planning to compete in his backyard this summer.
In a Pan Am Games press release, Wiggins, 19, was quoted saying “It’s exciting to have the Pan Am Games in my hometown of Toronto this summer. Having the opportunity to play at home is very special for Team Canada and the country.”
The release accompanied Pan Am Games basketball schedule for women and men. Canada Basketball also weighed in, saying the home fans can expect to see the women’s and men’s national teams in Toronto this summer, meaning its strongest squads could be on the ticket.
The women’s team head coach Lisa Thomaidis led Canada to fifth place at the World Championships in 2014. “This will be another special year for us,” she said, “as we will have the privilege of competing on home soil twice; at the Pan Am Games in Toronto and hosting the FIBA Americas Women’s Championship in Edmonton.” The latter tourney in August will be integral for Canada to qualify for the Olympic Games at Rio 2016.
Jay Triano, head coach of the men’s team, seems confident he can put together a strong squad for Toronto 2015 ahead of Olympic qualification. Rich in NBA talent, Canada has a chance to stamp its place in the men’s game. “Every player that I’ve talked to has indicated that they want to play in both Pan Ams and the qualifying tournament,” Triano told The Canadian Press. “Had the Pan Ams been somewhere else, we would have had a different story, but the fact it’s in our backyard, these guys are pretty excited.”
Rosters are never guaranteed, especially when players with multi-million dollar contracts are involved. But as of now it seems Canada Basketball and its athletes are very much looking forward to displaying their talents at home in July.