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Olympic hoops qualifier tips off in Victoria arena Tuesday afternoon

Canada’s men look to qualify for first Summer Games since 2000, tournament runs June 29 to July 4
The FIBA Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament takes place at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria from June 29 to July 4. (Facebook/FIBA)

Canada is one of six teams trying to punch a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics in Victoria this week.

Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre is home to national basketball teams from around the world competing in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Olympic Qualifying tournament today (June 29) through July 4.

Canada, looking to qualify for its first Summer Games since 2000, opens Tuesday against Greece at 4:05 p.m., before finishing the two-game group stage against China on July 1. The top two from each three-team group advance to the semifinals.

On June 25, the province authorized allowing spectators to fill 10 per cent of the downtown arena’s seats for games on July 1, 3 (semifinals) and 4 (final).

READ: Okanagan tennis star sweeps into Round 2 at Wimbledon

Canada, ranked 21st in the world, has the largest share of active National Basketball League players among the six teams competing in the Victoria qualifying tournament.

Seven teams qualified for the Tokyo Olympics at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup and Japan received automatic entry as the host nation. The remaining four Olympic spots are made up of the winners of four tournaments happening in Victoria and Europe – Croatia, Lithuania and Serbia - this week.

The B.C. government invested $650,000 into the hosting opportunity. The chair of the qualifying tournament’s local organizing committee thanked the province for supporting its efforts to “bring a world-class, high-profile event to Victoria through incredibly challenging times.”

“This event celebrates Team Canada’s appearance at the Olympic level, highlights B.C.’s resilient sport sector and showcases Canada’s men’s team as serious medal contenders in Tokyo,” said Clint Hamilton, chair of the Friends of Victoria Basketball Society.

Premier John Horgan said he’s thrilled to have the qualifier in the capital city.

“Not only will this event give kids and young athletes the chance to be inspired by some of the most talented players in the world, it is an excellent way to showcase to the world that B.C. is a destination of choice for safe events as we take careful steps toward putting the pandemic behind us,” he said.

For the qualifier, the Friends of Victoria Basketball Society purchased the floor from Oracle Arena in Oaklands used for the NBA Finals when the Toronto Raptors won the title in 2019.

The tournament will be broadcast on CBC and streamed on and the DAZN sports streaming service.

READ: Saanich’s Emma Entzminger handles the hot corner for Canada at Tokyo Games

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