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Spain blasts past Canada in 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup opener

Spain’s ball movement, execution and dominance leave Canada in the dust as they pick-up a big 83-56 victory at the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup.

In a commanding display of skill and execution, the Spanish U19 basketball team continued their dominance over Canada, clinching a conclusive 83-56 victory on the opening day of Group A action in the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup, hosted at Debrecen’s Fönix Arena in Hungary.

Spain’s crisp ball movement, continuous execution of the pick and roll, and paint dominance were evident and superior in their two warm-up matchups prior to the World Cup and once again proved too much for the Canadians when it matter most.

Canada had a disastrous start to the game, trailing 6-1 early on and converting on just 1 of their first 13 field goal attempts. The Spanish team used an efficient high pick-and-roll set, causing mismatches that led to effortless dump-off passes and 22 of their 24 first-quarter points in the paint and a 14-point advantage after ten minutes.

An early second-quarter burst by Michael Nwoko, including a nice steal and tough hop-step finish in the paint, cut Spain’s lead to 29-19, promptly forcing a Spanish timeout by head coach Daniel Garcia with 6:44 to play. However, that’s as close as Canada would get, as they were held without a field goal for the remainder of the quarter, trailing 42-23 at halftime.

Unable to stop their nemesis in the half-court, fast-break and lacking a true playmaker to ignite the offence on the opposite end, the Spanish lead balloned to a game-high 30 points at the mid-point of the fourth-quarter. 

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Canadian forward michael nwoko slams home a powerful two hand dunk in the 83 56 loss to spain at the 2023 fiba u19 world cup
Canadian forward Michael Nwoko slams home a powerful two hand dunk in the 83-56 loss to Spain at the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup – Photo: FIBA

Nwoko powered his way to a team-high 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting, the Miami Hurricane s commit also pulled down four rebounds, added two assists and two steals in the 25 minutes.

Nineteen-year-old Elijah Fisher continued to struggle with his shot and finished with eight points on 1-of-8 shooting. The recent transfer to Depaul University grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, but also had four turnovers.

Six-foot-ten forward Jordann Dumont provided a sparked off the bench by knocking down 2-of-3 three-pointers. David Simon also chipped in with six points and three rebounds in 18 minutes.

Canada was limited to 17-of-64 (26.6%) percent shooting, 4-of-21 (19%) from three pointers and 18-of-25 (72%) from the foul-line.

Spain pounded Canada inside, finished with 56-26 edge in points scored in the paint and outscored Canada 17-4 in fast break points.

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Spain forward izan perez throws two hand dunk against canada at 2023 fiba u19 world cup
Spain forward Izan Perez throws down one of his three dunks in 83-56 win over Canada at 2023 FIBA U19 World cup – Photo: FIBA

Izan Pérez led Spain in scoring with 17 points and eight rebounds. Lucas Langaritaa contributed 15 points, displaying a well-rounded performance. Club Joventut Badalona talented point guard Jordi Rodriguez scored 15 points on shooting 50% from the field. Rafael Villar also had a strong game with 14 points, four assists and three reounds.

Spain has emerged victorious over Canada in seven out of eight official U19 World Cup matches since 1991. However, Canada managed to secure an important quarter-finals win in 2021, claiming a 81-77 victory thanks to Caleb Houstan’s 25 points and Zach Edey’s 24 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocks.

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The two teams faced off in two scrimmages before the World Cup. Spain emerged victorious in both match-ups, winning the first game 81-75 and the second game 86-57 with ease.

Canada, with a record of 0-1, is set to face  China, also with a record of 0-1, in their second match-up. They will conclude their preliminary Group A games against France on Tuesday.

Team China exhibited resilience against France for three quarters before scoring only nine points in the fourth quarter, succumbing to a defeat of 83-63.

All four teams will advance from the group phase on to the knock-out stage where they will cross-over in a round-16 games against teams from Group B which include the USA, Slovenia, Lebanon and Madagascar.

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