Nav Bhatia with young basketball players at the BC Prep gym in Surrey on Jan. 29. (submitted photo: Christopher Edmondstone)

VIDEO/PHOTOS: Raptors ‘superfan’ Bhatia meets basketball players in Surrey

He’s here to promote FIBA tournament that will see winner qualify for 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games

** This story has been updated.

Toronto Raptors “superfan” Nav Bhatia was in Surrey on Wednesday night (Jan. 29) to help promote the FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament in Victoria later this year.

Bhatia, in his duties as a “Canada Basketball Community Ambassador,” met with AthElite basketball players at BC Prep Academy, at 15358 67th Ave., Surrey.

Bhatia, an auto dealer in the Toronto area, says he’s never missed a single Raptors game since 1995, and was given a NBA championship ring by the team last year in celebration of his support over the years.

“His goal is simple: to unite people of all ages and backgrounds through the game of basketball so they don’t have to face the discrimination Nav faced over the years as a visible minority,” says a bio posted to the National Speakers Bureau website.

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In Victoria, Team Canada will face #7-ranked Greece in opening game of the FIBA tourney, to run from June 23-28 at Victoria’s Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

Canada Basketball has announced that ticket packages for the qualifier will go on sale at 10 a.m. Pacific time on Friday, Jan. 31. Details are posted to http://vic2020.basketball.ca.

(story continues below)

The tournament winner will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.

Team Canada is looking to return to the Olympics for the first time since 2000.

In Victoria, Canada will face Greece and China in Group A, while Uruguay, Czech Republic and Turkey have been drawn into Group B. Each team will play the other two teams in its own group (two games for each team). The top two teams in each group will advance to the semifinals. The two semifinal winners will advance to the winner-takes-all final for the remaining Olympic spot.

Nine-game ticket packages range from $270 ($30 per game) plus service charges to $1,350 ($150 per game) plus service charges. Two dollars from each ticket is dedicated to the tournament’s not-for-profit legacy fund, to be reinvested “in the promotion of sport development, social, cultural, economic and community development enhancements in Victoria and across the Capital Region.”

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

June 23:

Group A – Game 1: Greece versus Canada

Group B – Game 2: Uruguay versus Turkey

June 24:

Group A – Game 3: Canada versus China

Group B – Game 4: Turkey versus Czech Republic

June 25:

Group A – Game 5: China versus Greece

Group B – Game 6: Czech Republic versus Uruguay

June 27:

Game 7: Semifinal game #1 (1st A versus 2nd B)

Game 8: Semifinal game #2 (1st B versus 2nd A)

June 28:

Final: (Winner Game 7 versus Winner Game 8) with winner advancing to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (July 24 – August 9, 2020)

In addition to Canada (Victoria), the National Federations of Croatia (Split), Lithuania (Kaunas) and Serbia (Belgrade) will also host FIBA Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

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Nav Bhatia with young basketball players at the BC Prep gym in Surrey on Jan. 29. (submitted photo: Christopher Edmondstone)

Nav Bhatia with young basketball players at the BC Prep gym in Surrey on Jan. 29. (submitted photo: Christopher Edmondstone)

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