There were stretches of inspired play but just not enough of them as Canada’s return to the global men’s basketball staged played out in disappointing fashion in Dongguan, China early today.
A brilliant third quarter was followed by a poor fourth as Canada lost 108-92 to Australia in its first FIBA World Cup game since 2010.
The loss now forces Canada to win each of its last two first-round games – Tuesday against Lithuania and Thursday against Senegal – to have any chance to advancing in the 32-country tournament.
After falling behind by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, Canada went on a 37-24 blitz in the third to get back in the game and harbour hopes of a monumental comeback.
But the veteran Australians, behind the under-stated excellence of Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles, began the fourth quarter on a 14-2 run to take control.
We’ll have a lot more on this later on today but Canada’s lack of depth, and Australia’s ability to run out 10 veterans with extensive world experience was the difference.
Khem Birch led Canada with 18 points, Cory Joseph had 16 and Kevin Pangos 14 but the defence was lax for too long too often against the veteran Aussies.
Matthew Dellavedova led Australia with 24 points, Chris Goulding had 16 and Patty Mills 15 for the Boomers, who shot 58 per cent from the field and a stunning 70 per cent from inside the arc.
Canada was making its first appearance at a World Cup since going winless in five games in Turkey in 2010. To earn an automatic berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Canada has to finish in the top seven of the World Cup and be no worse than the second team from FIBA Americas.
It will be a longshot and will require consecutive wins to finish the first round at the absolute least.
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