For the second time in as many days, a Cleveland Cavaliers starter has announced that he will play for their native country this summer. On Sunday, guard Kyrie Irving decided that he will play for Team USA this summer at the Rio Olympics. On Monday, Tristan Thompson reportedly decided that he will play for Team Canada, according to Cleveland.com's Chris Haynes.
Unlike Team USA, however, Team Canada has yet to qualify for the 2016 summer Olympics, so Thompson isn't guaranteed a spot in Rio in a few months. But after placing third in the FIBA America's Championship in Mexico City last summer, they secured a spot in the Olympic qualifying tournament that will take place between July 4-10. It will be three separate tournaments and the winner of each will clinch a berth in the Olympics. For anyone who's curious: Canada is in the Manila tournament, slotted in Group A, and will face Turkey (Cedi Osman!) and Senegal in the first round on July 5. The rest of Group A consists of France, New Zealand and the Philippines.
http://www.scout.com/cleveland-sports/story/1681575-kyrie-irving-to-play-for-team-usaDeciding to sit out of the Olympics in 2012 so he could have his full focus on free agency, this will be Thompson's first appearance for his national team. As a player that's counted on to grab rebounds, defend the pick-and-roll, and protect the paint during the NBA season, the 25-year-old will be counted on to play a much bigger role for Canada this summer. He will join a team that includes fellow NBA players Cory Joseph (Toronto Raptors), Tyler Ennis (Milwaukee Bucks) and Joel Anthony (Detroit Pistons) as well as former Cavs' No. 1 draft pick Anthony Bennett. 1 With such a young lineup that doesn't have many talented big men, No. 13 will have to not only play well on defense like he is used to but also light up the scoreboard as well if Team Canada wants to qualify for Rio and make some noise in the Olympics.
After not missing a single game since his midway through his rookie season, this will be Thompson's first time donning the Canadian jersey. The big man obviously knows how to deliver on the big stage, now the only question is if he can help his native country's basketball team qualify for the Olympics. While Thompson decided not to take the summer off (away from legitimate competition on the basketball court like Csvs' LeBron James and Kevin Love), this will be another opportunity for the big-man to improve his game the best he can in order for the wine and gold's quest at back-to-back titles in 2016-17.
1 Former Cleveland No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins decided not to participate.