In what will go down as a massive upset, African champions Mali defeated defending Champions Canada 71-70 at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece.
Trailing 39-33 at half-time Mali took the game to Canada in the third-quarter by getting the Canadians in early foul trouble and bonus situation to ripped off a 20-0 run after Canada led 45-37 and take a 57-45 lead and control of the game.
Team Canada was able to cut the margin of deficit to single digits at 57-50 by holding Mali scoreless for the last 4:27 of the third quarter.
Dan Vanhooren’s troops continued to battle but still trailed 70-63 with 3:10 to play — Two triples down the stretch by AJ Lawson and Karim Mane cut the lead down to one point with 1:13 to play. Canada forced Mali into three straight turnovers including a illegal screen foul that sent point guard Joel Brown to line. The Brewster Academy play-maker missed the first and tied the game at 70-70 with 28 seconds left.
Mali’s Hassan Drame got fouled on his way to the basket and knocked down one-of-two freethrows to put them ahead at 71-70. Canada failed to complete the comeback as AJ Lawsons triple came-up short.
Canada struggled to contain Mali on the glass all-game allowing Mali to pull down an impressive 27 offensive rebounds on their way to a 64-49 advantage.
Further to Canada’s rebounding issues, Mali forced the Canadians into 19 turnovers a terrible 41.2% shooting from the foul-line — going 7-of-17.
Siriman Kanoute paced four Mali players in double-figures with a game-high 22 points and four rebounds. Hassan Drame added a big double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Twin brother Fousseyni Drame also racked-up a double-double with 12 points and game-high 15 rebounds.
Keon Ambrose-Hylton 16 points and 5 rebounds strong play off the bench led Canada. Karim Mane 10 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists and AJ Lawson 11 points and 3 rebounds combined for 8-of-24 shooting.
Just two years ago Canada hammered Mali 91-42 at the 2017 U19 World Cup in Cairo Egypt.
Canada (1-1) will closeout group B play against Latvia (0-3).