Canada concluded a loaded seven-game International Series World Cup schedule with a tough 84-68 loss to the United States of America at Qudos Bank Arena, in Sydney, Australia.
Coming off a unexpected defeat to the Australia Boomers that broke 78-game winning streak — the Americans looked sharp early on against a Canadian offense that came-in firing on all cylinders at 94.1 points per game — including topping the century mark in their two (122-88, 103-100 OT) previous wins over New Zealand.
Canada struggled to score against a focused defensive minded USA squad, opening the game 1-for-9 shooting as the Americans raced-out to a 11-2 lead in the first-five minutes. The USA dominated the rebounding advantage 18-9 early on and Canada shot just 4-of-20 (20%) to trail 20-9 after the first 10 minutes. Canada maintained a glimmer of hope forcing the USA into six first-quarter turnovers.
Team Canada doubled their first-quarter points mid-way through the second-quarter and managed to trim the lead to five points at 35-30 with 2:05 to play but couldn’t contain the Americans inside to trail 46-31 at half-time.
The Americans never trailed in the game and stretched the lead to a game-high 24 points on a driving layup with 4:04 to play in the game. Canada closed the game on 7-0 run to make the score respectable.
Kyle Wiltjer poured-in a game-high 21 points, 3 rebounds on 8-of-13 shooting and Khem Birch also reached double-figures with 13 points, 6 rebounds. Kevin Pangos managed 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and Melvin Ejim contributed with 5 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
Jaylen Brown scored a team-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting and Donovan Mitchell started the game strong adding 12 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals. Kemba Walker 12 points, 4 rebounds. Myles Turner dominated the paint with 10 points, 15 rebounds double-double.
“We got a lot of work to do, luckily this is only an exhibition game so we can re-group and execute better and ready for the World-Cup.” discussed a confident Khem Birch after the game.
“The whole point of this is, is to have guys that want to play for their country and we have 12-13 guys that want to play and hopefully we play well in the World Cup.” added the Orlando Magic forward.
USA dominates the paint
USA pounded Canada on the rebounds with a 55-37 edge scoring 60 of their 84 points in the paint. The Canadians forced the Americans into 19 turnovers on 12 steals.
Both teams struggled to find any scoring from the three-point line with the Americans landing only 2-of-14 (14%) and Canada 6-of-23 (26%).
Head Coach Nick Nurse opted for a starting line-up that featured Philip Scrubb, Kevin Pangos, Melvin Ejim, Thomas Scrubb, Khem Birch.
Oshae Brissett doubtful + Cory Joseph on the way for World Cup
Oshae Brissett didn’t dress and as per the broadcast crew and confirmed by Nick Nurse. Brissett could be in jeopardy of missing the World Cup to a unexpected knee injury sustained in the second-game against New Zealand.
Nurse once again confirmed the status of Sacramento kings point guard Cory Joseph “As far as I know, he is… he said he was getting on the plane tomorrow”, said Nurse in the press conference after the game.
Andrew Nembhard (4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 15 minutes), Kaza Kajami-Keane (3 points, 1 assists, 8 minutes) both returned to the Canadian bench after sustaining notable knee and ankle injuries. Sharpshooter Brady Heslip (0 points, 0/4 shooting, 17 minutes) absent since the Nigeria series rejoined the team.
Canada continues to struggle with USA
Canada’s senior men’s team has only managed to beat the USA on three occasions – in the semi-finals of the 2015 Pan-AM games in Toronto. 2005 FIBA Americas Group A win (92-76) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and in 1983, at Summer Universiade games (85-77) in Edmonton, Alberta.
For the USA (3-1), the victory is the start of a new streak which they hope will culminate in yet another podium appearance. The defending World Cup champions and no. 1 ranked team opens-up their 2019 World Cup journey against a Czech Republic team that features crafty Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky. The Czech’s went 3-2 in the warm-up games picking-up wins over Poland, Angola and Korea and losses to Germany and Hungary.
Team Canada (4-3) concludes a seven-game preparation phase with wins over Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand (2x) with losses to Nigeria, Australia and USA.
Canada set to cut roster to final 12 players
Nick Nurse and his coaching staff will now have to make some tough decisions as to who to cut. Canada’s roster currently stands at 14 players and they have up to 48 hours prior to the start of the 2019 World Cup to announce their final rosters to FIBA.
The final 12-men roster should be released at day as Team Canada gets set to board lengthy 13-hour flight on Tuesday August 27th (22:00 hrs) to the city of Dongguan, China — the site of their intriguing group of death clashes against Australia, Lithuania and Senegal.
Boxscore: Canada vs. USA