Facing a must win situation Canada fell flat, losing 92-69 to Lithuania to drop to 0-2 at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
Head Coach Nick Nurse started with a small three point-guard line-up against a much taller and physical Lithuania team that featured Jonas Valanciunas (Memphis Grizzlies) and Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers) — opting to double team the low-post on every early possession.
The strategy worked with mild success putting the Canadians in scramble mode and early foul trouble, trying to locate and rotate — thus allowing Lithuania to shoot 8-of-14 in the first-quarter for a 25-14 lead.
Canada committed 8 fouls and turned the ball over seven times forcing starters Khem Birch and Pangos to the bench with two early fouls.
Team Canada limited the turnovers, but continued to pill-up fouls in the second-quarter as Lithuania executed at a efficient level — maintaining a comfortable double-digit and 46-36 half-time advantage.
Canada failed to cut into the deficit in the second-half as Lithuania limited the Team Canada to just 33 second-half points outscoring the Canadians 24-18 in the third-quarter and 22-15 in the final 10 minutes for a convincing 23-point victory.
Kyle Wiltjer kept Canada in the game scoring 15 of his game-high 24 points in the first-half on 7-of-11 shooting and 3-of-3 from three-pointers.
“Obviously not the outcome that our team wanted, we have to learn from it, this not the end of the tournament. You have to give those two teams credit they are very seasoned, they play a lot of games together.” shared Wiltjer after the game.
“We just have to continue to be positive as a program and continue to work.”
Cory Joseph found the scoring touch late in the game, finishing 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and Khem Birch added 12 points and 4 rebounds. Kevin Pangos struggled with foul-trouble and dished out 8 assists for the second-straight game.
Head Coach Nick Nurse seemed visible more upset after the loss and attributed the loss to the lack of size.
“It was a bit of size issue, we knew for us going in and it was pretty evident. There was a lot of baskets at the rim and there was a lot of second shots. I thought we came out pretty solid to start, we were doing some good double teaming on their bigs and had them rattled a little bit. The only problem we were turning it over a little bit too much early.” discussed Nick Nurse.
Lithuania dominated every aspect of the game shooting 36-of-71 (50.7%) and destroyed Canada on the glass with 47-26 edge including 19 offensive rebounds. The European powerhouse scored 52 paint points and outclassed Canada’s bench with a 43-35 advantage.
For the second game in a row Team Canada has failed to generate any fast-break points, racking up only 7 against Lithuania and 9 in the 108-92 opening loss to Australia at the World Cup
Edgaras Ulanovas 15 points, 5 rebounds paced a strong Lithuania squad that saw all but one player hit the scoresheet. Jonas Valanciunas 13 points and 8 rebounds. Mantas Kalnietis 11 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds. Lukas Lekavicius 11 points, 2 rebounds. Domantas Sabonis 10 points, 8 rebounds.
Canada (0-2) will play Senegal (0-2) in the final game of Group H and will be placed in a newly created Group P in 17-32 classification bracket. The Canadians will be rejoined by Senegal, in addition to Jordan (0-2) and Germany (0-2) and will likely have to win all games with hopes of making a strong case for an Olympic Qualifying Tournament inclusion next summer.
Even then, if Canada does get an invitation to the one-of-four Qualifying Tournament euar they will have to win out the tournament for a chance at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Lithuania (2-0) and Australia (2-0) will battle for first-place in Group H.
Canada draws tough group for 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifier
Canada’s Senior Men’s National Basketball (SMNT) faces a tough road to the 2020 Olympic tournament after drawing stiff competition at the official qualifying draw in Switzerland.
No. 21 Canada will play in tough group A in Victoria, British Columbia against No. 7 ranked Greece and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Team Canada will also face rising No. 24 China. Group B features No. 43 Uruguay, No. 10 Czech Republic, No. 15 Turkey.
Canada will need to win the last minute Olympic qualifying tournament at home to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic games.
The top two teams in each group advance to the semi-finals in a crossover game. The tournament runs from July 23-28. The top four teams from each tournament will advance to Tokyo and will join an already impressive field that includes hosts Japan, Argentina, Australia, France, Spain, Iran, Nigeria and the United States.
The Czech Republic finished in sixth-place at the recently completed 32-team World Cup in China with a record of 4-4 — with losses coming to the USA 88-67, Greece (84-77), Australia (82-70) and Serbia (90-81). Greece missed out on a top 10 finish after a disappointing 3-2 showing. Turkey showed flashes of brilliance finishing a spot below Canada at 22 with a 2-3 record — losing a close 93-92 group game against the USA.
China also finished with a 2-3 record dropping close games to Poland (79-76), Venezuela (72-59) and Nigeria 86-73. Uruguay, the lowest ranked team of the six is the only team that didn’t qualify for the World Cup.
The six teams coming to Victoria this summer all feature proven NBA star-power, headlined by the Hellas’ Giannis Antekonmpo. The Czech Republic has crafty Chicago Bulls point guard Tomas Satoranksy and Turkey also boasts power forward Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, point guard Ceidi Osman of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Furkan Korkmaz of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Despite the growing global NBA player presence – it is Canada that features the most international players in the world’s best league. After a disappointing 2-3 showing at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Team Canada is expected to put together it’s best roster in years’ — already garnering early official social media commitments from two of Canada’s rising stars. Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and OKC Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have officially announced their intentions. Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, Khem Birch of the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans’ guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker have also made it clearly evident that they will be on hand to help Canada end it’s 20-year summer Olympics drought that dates back to 2000.
Canada will kick-off the tournament against Greece on June 23rd and will play China the next day with a rest day in-between — before the semi-finals on June 27.
One thing to keep in consideration is the proximity of the qualifying tournament to the NBA Finals. Game 1 on the 2020 NBA Finals is set for Thursday June 4th 2020 and if stretched the distance it will run until Sunday June 21st leaving only two days before the start of the crucial tournament. Both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors are amongst the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and should they reach the NBA finals it will be interesting to see how it will affect player turnout and other last minute decisions.
Canada’s coaching staff is led by Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse, Greece recently appointed former Kentucky Wildcats head coach Rick Pitino.
Canada failed to reach the 2016 Rio Olympics via the FIBA qualification tournament, falling to eventual fourth-place finisher France in a hard-fought 83-74 battle in Manila, Philippines.
Lance Stephenson Makin’ ‘Em Dance In China
Remade in China.
From playing with LeBron and the Lakers last season. To getting an early start in the Far East for this one. Getting in opponents faces like he used to do when he went up against the King. Blow in his face all you want…but its just hot air.
Lance Stephenson is back baby!
Like you’ve never seen him before. Running his town in China for the Liaoning Flying Leopards.
To quote Charlie Murphy talking about Prince in an infamous Hollywood stories episode of Dave’s ‘Chappelle Show’, “this cat can (still) ball man”!
To those who think a couple of strings have popped off Stephenson’s guitar then just watch him play and strum along. Lance is still makin’ ’em dance with the NBA’s most famous celebration…except the league just lost it and one of their premier performers and fondly favourite, cult celebrities in the amazing association of epic entertainment.
Turns out the Lakers should have held on to their veteran big name meme team a little longer. Although they did re-up with pure point Rondo running the show and the centre who should start in JaVale McGee. But in not keeping one of their biggest bench presence spark plugs of camaraderie and chemistry since the days of Rony Turiaf or even Mad Dog, Mark Madsen, this is almost as heart-breaking as losing all the kids in the Hollywood divorce for Anthony Davis. But we love reunions almost as much as we love redemption in this league and with BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson inking a deal with Detroit that is going to see the Motor City Pistons assembly line cut former Laker Michael Beasley. We may just see this fellow wild card, big contributing star head back to the Chinese league he finished out the season with like he hasn’t just flown home already. We know one Leopard who would welcome him with back open paws and any other player with a name beyond a meme, not caring if he never changes his spots.
Just when you thought Ice Cube’s inspired BIG3 was the only prescribed route for former NBA players to EA get back in the game like museum exits via the gift shop then check out this exhibit. You only have to check a FIBA feed and see how France French kissed the United States out said tournament a year before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan to see that this game is truly global. It’s far more than just the United States. It’s the whole wide, watching and welcoming world. And one of the biggest hubs like everything in this world from business, to commerce and innovation is in China. Now that’s some development even the G-League can’t give you old man.
Coney Island’s own legend Stephon Marbury became an icon here, remaining after he retired…and this guy was a superstar under the Times Square, World’s Most Famous Arena lights of being a New York Knick in the Madison Square Garden of hallowed hoops Eden.
Are you listening Carmelo?
You too Dwight…give it a couple of months.
With 35 and 10, double decadence in the playoffs, Lance just put an end to San Miguel like last orders at the bar and now next rounds on him as he mime guitars until the fat lady falsettos in her stilettos to everyone raising a glass in toast.
The all dunking and big shot scoring player looks like he’s stepped into a rejuvenation machine…until you see just how much he afforded with his spare chance minutes last year on the biggest stage in Hollywood. He looks like he’s having a Swayze. And Chinese Basketball in turn the time of its life.
All Stephenson needed was another chance. And boy is he taking it right now. At this point Lance will be back in the league before you can say “it’s opening night at the STAPLES Center.” But at this point would he even want back, causing big trouble in a not so little China?
(As a matter of fact after press Lance Stephenson lead his Leopards over Seoul to win both the Terrific 12 and the tournament MVP…like Jay what more can we say?)
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