Dongguan, China – Canada opened-up the 2019 FIBA World Cup with a tough 108-92 loss to Australia in Group H.
Trailing 52-40 at half-time Canada stepped on the gas and ripped-off a quick 11-0 run to cut the lead to 52-51 with 7:38 remaining. Canada took their first lead since the first minute of the game at 58-55 on a made triple by Kevin Pangos.
Khem Birch tip-in put Australia in a 62-57 hole with 5:33 remaining and another silky smooth jumper by Pangos forced the Aussies into their third timeout of the quarter, extending the lead to 65-59 with 4:38 remaining in the third-quarter.
Team Canada outscored the Boomers 37-24 to grab a 77-76 lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
It was one-way traffic in the fourth-quarter as Australia held Canada to just two points with 5:54 to go and a 92-79 lead. The Boomers dominated the final period — outscoring the Canadian’s 32-15 to cruise to an easy and important 16-point margin of victory.
Cleveland Cavaliers Guard Matthew Dellavedova led six Boomers in double-figures including all five Australian NBA players with a game-high 24 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds on 9-of-13 shooting and a hot 6-of-10 from downtown. Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles did a little bit of everything adding a near double-double with 13 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals. San Antonio’s Patty Mills 15 points, 6 assists. Chris Goulding 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Bruising big-men combo of Andrew Bogut 12 points, 9 rebounds and Aron Baynes 10 points, 4 rebounds banged the Canadians in the interior.
Australia shot 39-of-67 (58%), nailed 11-of-27 triples (41%) and got to the free-throw line at will, thanks to Canada’s poor defensive display — knocking down 19-of-25 (76%) freebies. Canada connected on 34-of-71 (41%) from the field, 9-of-27 from three and 15-of-16 from the charity stripe.
Khem Birch scored 18 points, 5 rebounds 2 blocks and Cory Joseph returned to action with 16 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds. Kevin Pangos added 14 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds. Melvin Ejim chipped-in with 9 points, 7 rebounds. Phil Scrubb 9 points, 2 rebounds and Thomas Scrubb 8 points on 2-of-2 triples.
Canada’s 37-point, third-quarter barrage is the most points by a Canadian squad in a quarter since FIBA switched from a two-half 20-minute format to four 10-minute periods — starting with the 2002 World Cup.
Kevin Pangos tied Steve Nash’s World Cup record with his 8 assists. Nash recorded 8 helpers in Canada’s 104-76 win over China at the 1994 World Cup in Hamilton, Canada.
“I thought we had moments where we played pretty well, played our kind of basketball and I thought there were moments where we struggled and didn’t get stops like we need to, didn’t get good scores like we need to.” discussed Pangos after the game. “They are a good team, they got a lot of talent, a lot of size shooters.”
Head Coach Nick Nurse wasn’t overly upset with his squads effort, “I thought the start wasn’t very good for us, and I didn’t think the end was very good, and I thought the middle as excellent.”
“Didn’t seem to be catching many breaks with the ball bouncing our way early and didn’t shoot it especially well when we did create some good shots. But we regrouped and half-time we came out and put a heck of a third-quarter together and just had again another bad stretch to start the fourth.” added Nick Nurse during the post-game media session.
Canada (0-1) faces a must win situation in their upcoming game against a tough Lithuania (1-0) team that hammered Senegal 101-47 in their opening game and features former Toronto Raptors and current Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas in their next group H encounter.
Australia (1-0) will take on Senegal (0-1) in their next contest and are in prime position to advance to the next round.