31 August, 2019
15 September
14 Dwight POWELL (Canada)
to read

Powell has medal hopes for Canada at the World Cup

Dallas (USA) - Coming off his fifth and most productive year in the NBA, Dallas Mavericks big man Dwight Powell is looking forward to a big summer for his Canadian national team.

He is one of 17 NBA players out of 29 total athletes who have been invited by Basketball Canada to training camp ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China. To be clear, the list of 17 NBA players includes five 2019 draft picks who have yet to play a minute in the league.

Powell's strong season, ability to run the court and get to the rim, and reputation as a hard worker should impress coach Nick Nurse enough to include him in the final 12.

In two World Cup Qualifying matches for Canada against the Dominican Republic and Virgin Islands, Powell averaged 10 points on 90 percent shooting from the field and 6 rebounds in only 17.5 minutes per game.

Powell, who turned 28 on July 20, spoke to FIBA.basketball, about Team Canada and the competition they will face in Group H in Dongguan.

How do you feel about Canada's return to the FIBA World Cup?

It is a very exciting summer for the world of basketball and for Canada basketball too. We are going to have a great opportunity of playing in the world stage.  It's a great opportunity to show the world how competitive our basketball is and to play against the best teams on the planet to show our improvement over the last couple of years.

Reaching qualification for China 2019 was such a great thing. I was very happy to see that we got our ticket to this summer's tournament after a great qualifying campaign. We are all proud to represent Canada, and we are all very motivated to have a great run in China.

Canada's pool of players is deep and most of them are still under 30 years old like yourself. What's your take on the athletes that Basketball Canada can bring to the senior national team?

I think that we have many talented players and guys that can help the team. From the youngsters to the veterans, and when I say veterans, I think about guys such as Cory Joseph and Kelly Olynyk, who are only 27 or 28 years old. We have a very good pool of players.

We still have so many years ahead of us playing all together, but we have been improving well in the last couple of years, so if we keep going this way, our future is going to be bright.

We have also so many young guys that can impact the team, such as Jamal Murray and R.J. Barrett, so we have a lot of young guns that are coming up that can impact the team on both ends of the floor.

Canada is grouped with Australia, Lithuania and Senegal. What do you think about the group?

It's a very, very competitive group to say the least. We will have to be ready from the first minute of the first game to avoid any surprise. All of the opponents that we are going to face in the first round are very good teams.

We all know about the great team of Lithuania, with their NBA players like Sabonis and Valanciunas, and their tradition of competitiveness in the senior national team. Senegal has been doing pretty well and they won't come to China just to play three games and go home.

And your first game will be against Australia…

It is the first game and it's going to be great to face one of the favorites of the group to start our campaign. Australia is a team that can reach the medal spots. It's going to be a very tough battle between two national teams that have big expectations for this summer and for the next tournaments coming.

Australia has a lot of experience and many players that are difference makers. We will have to be ready to play with a lot of intensity and have a very solid defense, which I think we can do. We are all looking forward to play games like this one.

Dwight Powell will be a key player for Canada at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019

What will be the goal for Canada this summer?

The goal is to go far in the tournament. We are ambitious, but we also know that it is very open and that a lot of teams can fight for a medal in this year's tournament. The level of competitiveness in the world has been growing so much, and it's going to be tougher to reach the top three spots of any international competition. It's going to be very intense, and every team will have to bring its A-game to go to the next round and have a great run in China.

If selected for the final roster, how do you see your role?

I am a team player and the team is always first. The fact that a lot of players are willing to help the national team is a very good sign for Canadian basketball. The pool of players is getting larger and larger, and a lot of players have shown competitiveness and can be part of the final roster.

The coaching staff is going to help us find the best chemistry, and we have all the ingredients to do something great this summer and for the next competitions coming.