With World Cup hopes already dashed and put on hold until 2023 — Canada turned it’s focus on earning a 2020 Olympic spot via the classification round by closing out the Group phase with a much needed 82-60 win over an improving Senegal — picking-up their first win of the tournament.
The win is Canada’s first World Cup victory since beating Venezuela 98-97 on September 3rd at the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis to finish 2-3 after a 0-3 start. Canada went 0-5 at the 2010 World Cup — their last appearance since this years’ showcase.
Another slow start for Team Canada
Senegal got off to a great start burying two three-pointers to jump on top 8-3 and further extended the lead to 13 points at 22-9 with under a minute to go in the quarter on another made triple by Xane Dalmeida. Canada once again had a difficult time generating any offense — struggling with 5-of-20 shooting, 1-of-8 from downtown to trail 22-11 after the first-quarter.
Senegal stroked 8-of-14 shots, 3-of-5 three-pointers on six assisted baskets.
Canada’s defense settled in by limiting the Senegalese to single possessions, translating to a 12-4 run to get back in game at 26-23 on a made dunk my Khem Birch with 6:23 on the clock — forcing a Senegalese timeout. Back-to-back three pointers by Kevin Pangos and Brady Heslip put Canada ahead for good at 31-28 with 4:06 remaining and a slim 33-32 half-time lead provided the necessary mental fortitude to execute better in the second-half.
Cory Joseph best game of World Cup
Cory Joseph scored 11 of his game-high 24 points in the first four minutes of the third-quarter as Canada opened-up a 50-42, lead taking control of the game by outscoring Senegal 28-14 in the in the middle frame for 59-46 edge with 10 minutes to play.
Canada limited Senegal just 28 second-half points, winning the final quarter 23-14 for the comfortable 22-point victory — one of their largest ever at a World Cup.
“Senegal is a good team, they are long, athletic. At the start we had to get used to their length, they played good defense. Second-half we just talked amongst each other and Nick, telling us to execute better and that’s what we did.” – verbalized Cory Joseph during post-game procedures.
“Went out there played a better defense, and our defense transitioned our offense to easier buckets.”
Kevin Pangos back on track
Kevin Pangos bounced back from a tough outing against Lithuania with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists. Melvin Ejim got the starting nod and contributed with his best game of the World Cup adding 11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal. Khem Birch continued to showcase his all-around talent with another solid effort with 6 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 steals and 2 assists.
Canada flexed some muscle
Canada finally out-muscled an opponent – beating the athletic Senegalese 47-32 on the boards to the tone off a 22-8 offensive rebounding advantage and shared the ball with a higher rate with 20 assists on 28 made field-goals.
Team Canada knocked down 28-of-74 shots (38%) and buried a tournament best 12-of-36 (33%) triples.
Mouhammad Faye paced Senegal with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 12 of those in the first-half. Lamire Sambe 10 points and 5 assists. Xane Dalmeida added 7 points, 2 rebounds.
Canada (1-2) finishes in third-place in the tough Group H and moves on to the 17-32 classification bracket where it will face Jordan and Germany in their next two upcoming games.
2020 Tokyo Olympic hopes still alive
Canada’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic hopes remain alive – and should they manage to get past both Jordan and Germany they will earn an automatically spot in one of four, six-team Olympic qualify tournaments next summer. Even, if it fails to secure a 17-23 finish in the classification side of the World Cup – Canada also stands in relatively solid grounds to potential earn a one of two wild sports to one of those Olympic qualifiers.