Defence was the calling card as Canada beat down Puerto Rico 86-56 in the round-of-16 to cruise into the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup quarter-finals at the Daugavpils Olympic Center, in Latvia.
17-year-old guard Elijah Fisher soared to new heights on his way to a game-high 14 points, the rising Canadian contributed with six (6) rebounds and three (3) steals in 21 minutes. Fisher knocked down 6-of-9 shot attempts, including his first three-pointer of the tournament, and threw down two ferocious dunks in his best showing in Canadian uniform.
Caleb Houstan, the highest recruit in Michigan Wolverines history since 2012, found his shooting touch, albeit in limited minutes, and chipped in with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
Creighton Bluejays incoming freshman point-guard, Ryan Nembhard continued his stellar play-making ability with 13 points, 10 assists and 4 rebounds. Nembhard currently leads all players in assists at 6.5 per game, compared to a respectable 2.4 assist to turnover ratio.
Arizona Wildcats sophomore Bennedict Mathurin (Montreal, Que.) added 13 points, three rebounds and three steals. Tournament leading rebounder, Zach Edey, came-up short of double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Canada (4-0) will face their toughest test yet when they take on No. 3 ranked Spain (3-1) in the quarter-finals. Spain lost their opening game to Argentina (69-68) and finished second in a tough Group C, picking-up wins over France (60-59), Korea (99-48).
The Spaniards took down Australia 86-73 in the round-of-16 to earn their ticket to the highly anticipated match-up between the two FIBA U19 international powerhouses.
Spain has traditionally dominated Canada at the U19 World Cup, undefeated in fsiz games against the Canadians in a storied rivalry that dates back to 1991 when Spain defeated Canada 92-71 in Edmonton, Canada.
Team Canada is on a collision course against rivals and undefeated United States (4-0). The USA will play Senegal in their quarter-finals match-up.
Should both teams win, it will set up a rematch off the 2017 U19 World Cup semi-finals, a game that saw Canada defeat the USA 99-87 to advance to the championship game and win the first gold medal at an international event.