It will be an early rise for Canadian basketball fans next Tuesday and Wednesday morning – breakfast in Manila so to speak – as our Senior men begin their quest for qualification for the Rio Olympic games with the Olympic qualifying tournament in the Philippines. We are happy to report that the TSN network will air both of Canada’s Group A games as well as the corresponding Group B game on the days that Canada plays. Specifically, according to on-line listings, TSN2 will show Canada’s opening game on Tuesday, July 5th beginning at 6:30 AM ET; that game will be followed by France and the host Philippines. Most believe France is the team to beat in this tournament and as Canada’s Head Scout Joe Raso has reported, the French, despite missing some key players, have had Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum and Nando DeColo in the lineup for their pre-tournament games. The following morning Wednesday July 6th also at 6:30 AM ET, Canada will face Senegal, in a game that will be broadcast on TSN4. A pair of wins are likely required for the Canadians to avoid France in the semi-final on Saturday (Canada gets an off-day on Thursday and then the entire field gets a rest day on Friday prior to the championship semi-finals on Saturday and championship game on Sunday). It is not known whether or not announcers will travel to Manila or do play-by-play and color in the studio while watching on a screen. Last summer in Mexico, Rod Black and Leo Rautins did the early games from the studio and Black was later replaced by one of the finer basketball play-by-play men in the world, Canadian Dan Shulman. Coach Jack Armstrong also should have a role to play in these games. For those who have been following the Sr. Men’s team thus far, observers are cautiously optimistic in the progress of the group, currently with a 3-1 record pending Wednesday’s game in Italy against Puerto Rico. By all accounts, Canada is defending, spacing the floor and sharing the ball offensively and will get an injection of top-end talent as 6’2″ Cory Joseph returns to the team. As well, 6’9″ Joel Anthony will suit up after the birth of a newborn very legitimately kept him away. Observers still hold out hope for the arrival of 6’11” Tristan Thompson – his Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving recently committed to playing for his home U.S.A. this summer. There is also some whispers that Jamal Murray, the wonder-kid from Kitchener who was drafted #7 overall in last week’s N.B.A. draft and who has played each and every summer for Canada going back at least 4 years, sometimes when physically exhausted – no one questions Murray’s loyalty – could also be available pending what is expected of him with the Denver Nuggets. The first game is one week away next Tuesday morning with Canada leaving Italy on Thursday, flying through Istanbul en route to the Philippines and their date with Turkey on the 5th.