Nate Bjorkgren, Nathaniel Mitchell to Coach Senior Men’s National Team in Upcoming FIBA Competitions
TORONTO, Ont. (October 19, 2021) – Canada Basketball announced Tuesday updated coaching assignments for Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team ahead of the start of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Americas Qualifiers.
Nate Bjorkgren has been named Associate Head Coach and will lead Canada during the November and February windows of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Americas Qualifiers.
Canadian Nathaniel Mitchell, who has been a member of the Senior Men’s National Team coaching staff since 2016, will assume the duties of Head Coach for the FIBA AmeriCup 2022 in Brazil next summer. Mitchell will also be a lead assistant coach on Bjorkgren’s staff during the November and February windows of the Qualifiers.
“Both Nate and Nathaniel are tremendous coaches within the Senior Men’s National Team Program and to have them committed to coach our team during upcoming the FIBA competitions is incredibly valuable to us in pursuit of our long-term goals,” said Rowan Barrett, General Manager / Executive Vice-President, Men’s High Performance. “As a result of scheduling conflicts with the NBA, the windows and other FIBA competitions, we recognize how vital it is to have both coaches involved with our program on a year-round basis.”
“The Toronto Raptors continue to be a tremendous partner of Canada Basketball in helping us grow the game of basketball and we would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to the organization for working with us and allowing us access to both Nate and Nathaniel during their season,” Barrett said.
Both Bjorkgren and Mitchell have both served as assistant coaches on head coach Nick Nurse’s Senior Men’s National Team staff for both the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria this past summer.
“Consistency is critical for the sustained success of this team and that extends beyond the players to our coaching staff as well.” said Nick Nurse, Head Coach, Senior Men’s National Team. “Having Nate and Nathaniel lead our team during the upcoming FIBA competitions will be not only another important step in their development as coaches but also the continuity and culture we are committed to building as a program.”
Bjorkgren was Head Coach of the Indiana Pacers last season and previously served as an assistant coach (2018-20) and advanced scout (2017-18) for the Toronto Raptors after spending two seasons as player development coordinator and assistant coach of the Phoenix Suns from 2015-17.
“We believe that we are continuing to build something special with this program and the upcoming Americas Qualifiers windows will be an important first step for us as a team towards qualifying for the World Cup,” said Bjorkgren. “Having spent time in Toronto with the Raptors, Canada is a special place for myself and my family and to have the chance to coach the national team is truly an honour.”
A native of Toronto, Mitchell returns home as an assistant coach on Nurses’ Raptors staff this season after spending the previous three seasons (2018-21) in Charlotte as an assistant coach with the Hornets. Mitchell has also previously served as an assistant coach with the Raptors 905 (2015-18) and the Maine Red Claws (2014-15).
“As an inner-city kid and a proud Canadian, having the opportunity to coach our Senior Men’s National Team in international competition is an honour,” said Mitchell. “The last six years working with our country’s next generation of players has been one of the highlights of my coaching career and I’m excited to lead our team next summer at the AmeriCup.”
Starting in November, 80 national teams will play games across six qualifying windows to secure their place among the 30 teams who will join hosts Japan and the Philippines in the 32-team edition of FIBA’s flagship event.
In the Americas region, 16 teams will face off over two rounds with the three best teams from each group, and the fourth-placed team qualifying for the FIBA Basketball 2023 World Cup.
Canada is in Group C for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Americas Qualifiers and will face Dominican Republic, US Virgin Islands and Bahamas.
The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, set to take place from August 25 to September 10, 2023, will see the Group Phase take place in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. The Final Phase will follow in the Philippines capital city of Manila.
The FIBA AmeriCup is the most prestigious competition for senior men’s basketball in the Americas, and will be held in Brazil from September 2-11, 2022.
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