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Lithuania end Canada’s 2019 FIBA World Cup dream



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 Lithuania Ends Canada Fiba World Cup Dreams
Kyle Wiltjer drills jumper over Lithuania defender- Photo: FIBA

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.

Jonas Valanciunas Lithuania End Canadas 2019 Fiba World Cup Dreams
Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas bangs inside against Khem Birch – Photo: FIBA

Head Coach Nick Nurse seemed visible more upset after the loss and attributed the loss to the lack of size.

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“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.

Team Canada Against Lithuania 2019 Fiba World Cup
Team Canada looking for answers at the 2019 FIBA World Cup – Photo: FIBA

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.

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España FIBA Campeon Del Mundo



España FIBA Campeon Del Mundo
Scream if you want to go for Gold in Tokyo...

When Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa almost a decade ago this writer was in London seeing a friend from Seoul, South Korea. From Oxford Circus to the fountain tops of Piccadilly Circus there looked like a million Spanish people lining the streets that all lived here in the Big Smoke (F### Brexit! Multicultural is beautiful). And despite the honking horns and raised glasses it was the most peaceful, beautiful sports celebration I have ever seen. No hostility, just community. A Spanish man fell to his knees in front of me like he’d just scored and grabbed my hand with both of his in prayer. The most beautiful Spanish woman I’ve ever seen in her nations strip and scarf walked past me whilst trailing her fingertips across my arm and asked me flirtatiously whilst giggling, “who won the World Cup!”


Just an old memory to reminisce as we begin.

No Muleta could ever stop this raging red Spanish bull.

Ever since way before Kobe and Pau went from teammates to rivals every Summer, Spain have been one of the biggest nations in Basketball and certainly the most complete team. And now even without the older Spanish G.O.A.T. Gasol watching at home in his uniform and with Team USA given freedom by the bronze placed France, Spain proved once again that they aren’t only the most consistent and best team in Europe…but the greatest in the whole wide world.

Right now and forever more on the way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This FIBA tournament has been something else in its self. And if this writer wasn’t about to start his own road to Japan he would have been able to enjoy it even more. But shout out to editor Edilson Silva’s wrists for keeping us in touch with the tournament on Twitter.

Even without the power of Pau, or many big names in the legendary legacy of the last decade of the Spanish side (no Sergio Rodríguez, Juan Carlos Navarro, Nikola Mirotic, or Serge Ibaka), the Spanish team still ruled like soccer or their basketball brother team Barcelona. As legends like Rudy Fernandez, Ricky Rubio and of course Marc Gasol cut South America’s Argentina down to 20 point blowout, 95-75 size like Luis Scola’s trademark hair (but what a run of play for a member of the team of the tournament).

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Spain 2019 Fiba World Cup Champions
Spain Basketball 2019 FIBA World Cup Champions – Photo: FIBA

Marc made his mark as the second player in history to be an NBA Champion and a FIBA World Cup one in the same year, although unfortunately fellow Toronto Raptor Ibaka couldn’t join him. But what a Summer for the first player to do this since the Lakers Lamar Odom almost a decade back in 2010. Only a year after Marc Gasol’s draft rights were traded by the purple and gold for brother Pau.

“The rest of the world have been caught up for quite some time”, like Kobe Bryant said. “The days of the ’92 Barcelona Dream Team are gone”.

Now that’s as true as the U.S. coming in fourth place like half the States had a dance recital.

Congratulations to the real Dream Team…yeah I said it.

Ricky Rubio had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists and no one deserves it more.

Marc Gasol had 14 and 7 in both rebounds and assists.

Sergio Llull had 15.

Rudy Fernandez 11, 10 and 3.

And both Juancho and Willy Hernangomez both had 11 too.

Now what more can you possibly say like reacting to that practice pregame half court heave underarm…from behind the back like a Globetrotter?

What the?

Gabriel Deck led the way for Argentina with 24 whilst the likes of old rivals and friends Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker watched from courtside in a sold out arena in Beijing. Whilst Scola scored 8. Argentina were valiant in the final like they were the whole terrific tourney until they were slain by Spain.

Now expect Spain to control the Japanese Olympics in Tokyo next year like a matador.

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France Say Au Revoir To United States In FIBA World Cup



France Say Au Revoir To United States In Fiba World Cup


From ‘Dream’ to ‘Redeem’, call it what you will but last night in Dongguan, China was a nightmare for Team USA as the United States were sent packing from the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

And it was France who gave Greg Popovich team it’s last kiss last night…and Tony Parker was nowhere in sight, apart from some applause emojis on Twitter in celebration.

A year before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and many teams (including the U.S. and Canada baby!) clinching their berths for the Japan games in this tournament, this tourney was more than just a precursor or appetizer for the main event to come in a calendars time. It was a competitive game of brackets for all or nothing in its own right. Not to mention a showcase of just how talented the world’s game is, their teams and the individual talents of players themselves. If you haven’t been tuning in like the media networks with no coverage you’re really missing out and the point like TP9. From Giannis Antetokounmpo showing just how much he gives his body up for club and country. And the Hustle of Memphis Grizzlies Japanese G-League regular Yuta Watanabe showing that when it comes to the Olympics next year it’s not just a Washington Wizards top pick who will be big for Japan. Call him up!

And then of course there’s former Parker backup and Spurs man Patty Mills clicking and lowing the boom with his ruling Aussies as his New Zealand neighbours do the Haka that could even put The Rock’s ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ fast and furious movie Samoan war dance in a hard place. But when it came to Popovich’s countrymen they just couldn’t pop against France as red white and blue beat the stars and stripes 89-79. Ending a 58 non exhibition game winning streak that Dream Teams have kept awake for longer than the wonderful women’s U.S. soccer team.

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If you ignorantly thought that Basketball had no borders outside America (and really? It’s 2019! Who does apart from Trump? Besides this is a Canadian site), then you really won’t now. France made a statement and those (Laker fans) who social media say that the Walker, Tatum, Brown and Smart Celtics couldn’t even beat France and Kyle Kuzma wouldn’t let this happen shouldn’t take this away from the nation who beat them, fair and block to dunk square.

And besides young to veteran superstars with exuberance and (Rio 2016) experience like Donovan Mitchell and Harrison Barnes respectively and respectfully couldn’t get it done either.

The U.S. played well and will be back to their best next year (but need to bring more big guns and names to the Olympic Games), but France just played better. Much better. From the stifling Eiffel Tower of Rudy Gobert with 21 points, 16 rebounds and 3 beautiful looking blocks from the view up there. Beautiful but brutal as Mitchell and Kemba Walker in the clutch can attest.

“We came here to win Gold,” Gobert told press postgame for a team who wants to lift more World Cups than their soccer counterpart. Between four point plays from Nicolas Batum and a team leading 22 from Evan Fournier on a 50 percent 4 for 8 from three from way back in Paris, this side didn’t even need Spurs like Parker or Boris Diaw. Especially when they had MVP and Knick, Frank Ntilikina. All that side needed was heart and they had it in abundance as France looked better than those Jumpman Paris St Germain black hoodies with Jordan in the A.

And anyone who wants to make this more about the U.S. needs to listen to Brooklyn Net and three point contest winner from downtown China Joe Harris, “We certainly didn’t deserve to win that game.”


Let that or Au Revoir be the last word.

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