Andrew Wiggins is choosing club over country as he announced his withdrawal from the Canadian national team set to participate at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila from July 5 to 10 later this year.
Before Wiggins withdrew, Canada was considered the top favorite to advance from the Manila OQT with national teams from the host country Philippines, France, New Zealand, Turkey, Senegal and Canada all vying for the one slot available for the main Olympic basketball tournament at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.
The Minnesota Timberwolves star admitted that his priority this summer is the NBA and the Timberwolves, which has struggled to make the postseason the past decade.
“After much thought, consideration and speaking with my family, I will not be participating in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament with the Canadian Men’s National Team in July,” Wiggins said in an official statement.
“As my third NBA season approaches, I understand my increased role with the Timberwolves and dedication to the upcoming season must have my total focus. We are building a championship contending team, which has always been my goal. This was definitely not an easy decision and I fully support and wish Team Canada nothing but success this summer.”
More bad news for Canada as it’s not only Wiggins who will be missing the Manila OQT. Other Canadians in the NBA who are not participating are Kelly Olynyk (Boston Celtics), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers), Jamal Murray (incoming rookie), Nik Stauskas (Philadelphia 76ers) and Anthony Bennett.
The USA national team has also experienced some of their star players withdrawing from their Olympic team consideration with Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), James Harden (Houston Rockets) and LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs), among others, already pulling out of their team for the Rio games.
Without Canada, France will now be the favorites to win the Manila qualifiers and advance to the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil.
Photo courtesy: Official FIBA logo