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Canada dominates Slovenia, secures quarter-finals spot in 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup

Team Canada delivered an exceptional performance, overpowering Slovenia with a commanding 90-69 victory, guaranteeing their place in the quarter-finals of the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup,

Canadian guard Elijah Fisher hangs on the rim after throwing down an emphatic dunk as Canada defeats Slovenia 90-69 to advance to the quarter-finals of the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup.
Canadian guard Elijah Fisher hangs on the rim after throwing down an emphatic dunk as Canada defeats Slovenia 90-69 to advance to the quarter-finals of the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup. - Photo: FIBA

In their first encounter at the U19 World Cup, Team Canada put forth their best performance when it mattered most by defeating Slovenia 90-69 to advance to the quarter-finals of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

The opening ten minutes of the game witnessed a back-and-forth battle, with neither team establishing a significant advantage on the scoresheet, resulting in a tied score of 23-23 at the end of the first quarter.

Canada ignited the second quarter with impressive ball movement and staunch defensive play. Their relentless attacks on the basket propelled them to a 33-25 lead, extending their advantage and prompting head coach Danijel Radosavljevic to call a timeout.

Slovenia responded by narrowing the gap to just one point at 35-34, but Canada closed out the first half with an 8-0 run in the final three minutes, securing a 43-34 lead at halftime.

The third quarter saw Canada’s lead swell to 18 points early on, eventually reaching a game-high of 25 points in the closing minute. Slovenia struggled to contain Canada’s offence, encountered difficulties in finding their shooting rhythm, and faced challenges in penetrating Canada’s defensive strategy.

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Canada’s formidable defensive performance limited Slovenia to a mere 11 points in the second quarter and 13 points in the third quarter.

Elijah fisher skies for for two hand slam dunk during canadas victory over slovenia at the 2023 fiba u19 world cup
Elijah Fisher skies for a two-hand slam dunk during Canada’s victory over Slovenia in the round-of-16 at the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary. – Photo: FIBA

Elijah Fisher, a six-foot-seven guard, delivered a standout performance, registering a double-double with 18 points, eleven rebounds, and four assists. Fisher knocked down 8-of-13 field goal attempts, was a perfect 2-for-2 from three-pointers and electrified the crowd with emphatic dunk over Slovenian defender Blaz Tratar.

Reflecting on his remarkable performance, Fisher, a highly sought-after prospect who recently who recently transferred to DePaul University, shared his thoughts on the team’s progress and his aspirations for the upcoming NCAA season with the Blue Demons.

“Just trying to get closer as a team, started being one. Started being one team, closer as one. Started being together, start doing everything together as we move with one heartbeat,” expressed Fisher.

When asked about his expectations for his new college basketball team, Fisher exuded confidence, stating, “Well, I see DePaul as, we will be the best team in the Big East. Watch out! And I feel like for me, I honestly think me and the team I’m a great piece I’m a going to fit in, rebound, do or whatever I can do to make the team win.”

Xaivian lee blows past nal belko helps canada defeat slovenia to advance to 2023 fiba u19 world cup
Xaivian Lee blows past Nal Belko as he helps Canada defeat Slovenia to advance to 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup – Photo: FIBA

Xaivian Lee, Canada’s starting point guard, set the tone early with his aggressive drives to the basket, overcoming early foul trouble. Lee once again showcased his scoring ability, finishing with 17 points, three rebounds, and two blocks.

Jordann Dumont made a substantial impact off the bench, contributing 11 points, including three successful three-pointers on 3-of-5 shooting, and securing five rebounds in his 18 minutes of play.

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Michael Nwoko and Bubu Benjamin also reached double figures, scoring 10 points each. Nwoko added seven rebounds, while Benjamin chipped in with four rebounds, two assists, and two steals in his 21 minutes on the court.

Canada shot the ball extremely well, concluding the game with a 46.7% field goal percentage (36-of-77), sinking a tournament-high nine three-pointers, and converting 9-of-15 attempts from the free-throw line.

Canadian forward michael nwoko goes up for a shot attempt in the 90 to 69 win over slovenia at the 2023 fiba u19 world cup
Canadian forward Michael Nwoko goes up for a shot attempt in the 90-69 win over Slovenia at the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup – Photo: FIBA

Slovenia’s Sergej Macura, standing at six-foot-nine, delivered a standout performance, leading his team in scoring with 15 points and seven rebounds, including a powerful two-hand dunk.

UCLA shooting guard Jan Vide struggled to find his rhythm, scoring 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting, including 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. Arne Osojnik rounded out Slovenia’s scoring attack with 10 points, three rebounds, and two assists.

The Slovenian team was limited to a 34.3% field goal percentage (24-of-70) and a tournament-low 21% percent (5-of-24) shooting from three-point range. Canada executed superb defensive rotations, effectively closing out on shooters and limiting their European counterparts to one and done possessions.

Since 2013, Canada and the USA have stood out as the dominant forces in the FIBA U19 World Cup, consistently earning a spot in the quarter-finals in the past six tournaments. Canada’s remarkable achievements include winning gold in 2017 and securing silver in 2021.

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Next up for Canada (2-2) is a Friday match-up against an undefeated Turkey (4-0) squad that cruised into the quarter-finals with group wins over Argentina (79-67), Korea (91-76), hosts Hungary (90-64) and a 72-53 round of 16 victory over Egypt.

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