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World Cup warm up: Canada confident without basketball big names

Canadian basketball stalwart Phil Scrubb believes the cohesion and chemistry between players from the World Cup qualifiers will help them offset the loss of NBA talent.

A below-strength Canada will play against Australia at RAC Arena on Friday and Saturday night, then face the Boomers again in the opening game of the World Cup.

While big names Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson and Jamal Murray made themselves unavailable and Kelly Olynyk has been ruled with a knee injury, Canada’s prospects have plummeted.

But Scrubb, who is playing in Spain, said the current team had its own strengths.

“Obviously we were expecting a few more guys to come and with Kelly now injured, it is tough,” Scrubb said.

“But over the past few days we have grown as a group. All of us have played together at some point in time so I think we’ve got good team chemistry.

“That’s huge. A lot of us played in the (World Cup) windows together. I think that’s really important since we don’t have necessarily the talent level that we were expecting. We work pretty hard and have a good enough squad to do well.

“We shoot the ball pretty well. We have a lot of good shooters and I think defensively we can switch a lot of ball screens and be pretty versatile.”

Scrubb’s patriotism and commitment to representing his country has been a hallmark of his career.

He had an outstanding college career at Carleton University and has made a point of playing for Canada regardless of his professional schedule.

With brother Thomas also part of the team, the 26-year-old said there was never any doubt that he would be playing at the World Cup.

“It’s the most important team I’ve played for,” Scrubb said.

“Ever since we were young, we looked up to guys who played for the national team and supported the team. For me personally a lot of people have helped me to get to this point to be on this team. Any chance I get to play, I will.”

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