Canada opened-up a two-game exhibition series against New Zealand firing on all-cylinders — blowing-out the Tall Blacks 122-88 in Sydney, Australia.
Aaron Best game-high 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals led a complete team effort that saw all Canadian players hit the scoresheet with six players in double-figures.
Andrew Nembhard continued his stellar exhibition play with 17 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals including a game-high 27 minutes. Oshae Brissett added 16 points, 7 rebounds. Owen Klassen just missed out on a double-double with 12 points, 9 rebounds. Kevin Pangos returned to the starting line-up and registered 10 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists. Duane Notice got his first taste of action and rounded-out the top scorers with 10 points in just 13 minutes.
Philip Scrubb (8 points, 2 rebounds) drilled back-to-back-three-pointers as Canada scored the first 10 points of the game. New Zealand reeled-off 11-straight to take their only lead of the game at 13-12 — Canada wasted no time responding with a game-changing 20-0 run on barrage of three-pointers to run away with the game and 35-16 first-quarter lead on 7-of-14 triples in the first 10 minutes.
“It was a great team effort, guys were sharing the ball, we were getting up-and down and getting it after on defense, we stuck to the game plan and were able to come-out with the win.” discussed player of the game Aaron Best after shooting 4-for-8 from the three-point line.
The hot shooting continued in the second-quarter with Canada ringing-up another 26 points to take a 61-47 half-time lead. The Canadians shot 23-for-41 (56%) from the floor, drilling 9-of-20 three-pointers and out-rebounded the Tall Blacks 27-18 in the opening 20 minutes.
Team Canada outscored the Tall Blacks 31-26 in the third-quarter and closed out the game by hitting the century for the first-time in the exhibition series in 34 point win of New Zealand.
Canada splashed 43-of-78 (55%) field-goals, knocked down 16-of-36 (44%) three-pointers and pounded the Kiwis 53-33 on the glass.
Unfortunately the win came at a cost as Canadian guard Kaza Kajami-Keane (8 points, 2-of-2 three-pointers in 5 minutes) was helped to the locker room with what looked like a pretty bad ankle injury. Kajami Keane had been playing well — fighting for 12-men roster spot on a loaded Canadian back-court.
Tai Webster led the Tall Blacks with 19 points, 7 rebounds. Rob Loe and Isaac Fotu added 17 points each. Cory Webster chipped in with 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Tall Blacks split a pair of games (99-89 loss, 104-87) against Japan and will play France and Serbia in China to wrap-up their preparation schedule. New Zealand is in a extremely tough group F that features Greece, Brazil and Montenegro.
The two teams will go at it again tomorrow night as Canada (3-2) continues to prepare for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
Nick Nurse opted to rest Kyle Witjer and was still without the services of starting point guard Cory Joseph and sharp-shooter Brady Heslip. Joseph is expected to join the team for Canada in China in time for the 2019 World Cup.