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Will Canada’s semi-final win provide momentum needed to upset France & advance to Rio?

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With an extra off day under their belts prior to facing a tough-minded New Zealand squad, Canada had more gas left in the tank in the game’s final minutes to secure a hard fought 78-72 win that was closer than the final score indicated.

New Zealand jumped out to an early 15-11 lead thanks to a 8-0 first quarter run, but with Canada dictating the pace for the most part they were able to regroup and lead most of the way.

Cory Joseph had a lot to do with that preferred pace as he started hitting 4 of his first 5 shots en route to a game-high 23 points.

A hot start from three was not a sign of things to come though for Canada, like in their game against Senegal they struggled mightily hitting just 1-of-15 after the first quarter. In the final three quarters of the last two games, they have shot a dreadful 1-of-26.

Coach Triano noted that their confidence was down from long distance and they made an adjustment to attack the rim more, but he knows that they “eventually have to make shots” to enjoy sustained success.


Tristan Thompson led the way inside as expected with 13 points on only 5 shots along with 10 rebounds including 5 on the offensive end. He was given great support though from Melvin Ejim’s 13 and 7 along with 2 blocks as well as Khem Birch’s 4 offensive rebounds in just 11 minutes. The coaching staff’s confidence in that pair off the bench was evident as well, as they both played critical roles late after being rewarded with the opportunity. Making it even more impressive was that the Kiwis were forced to go small late, having lost a second big man who fouled out.

New Zealand’s Webster brothers were a key reason they were able to tie the game going into halftime, combining for 24 of New Zealand’s 42 points. The point guard Tai then came away with 4 offensive rebounds after halftime, but his older brother could not match his energy late.  This included a key air ball and turnover in the game’s final few minutes, after earlier taking only their second half lead at 66-64 with about 6 minutes remaining in the game. Coach Triano reflected afterwards about how he settled his team down following that key point, leading to their 14-6 game ending run:

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“I told them to breathe just to relax, we got caught up a little bit and they hit a three which hurts us. At the end of the game our execution, spreading the floor and being able to use our athleticism was our strength.” In another similarity to their struggles from three over the last games, they shot just 56 percent on 25 free throws down from 61 percent against Senegal.

Nicolas-Batum-Tony-Parker-France-FIBA-2016

Nicolas Batum & Tony Parker – Team France

Without marked improvement from three and the charity stripe, it’s hard to see how Canada will knock off a France team that is determined to get Tony Parker to Rio in his last tour of duty with the national team.

However, aside from Tristan Thompson’s history of difficulties from the line (excluding this game where he was 5-of-7), there is definitely an expectation that an improvement in those categories should eventually come.

A big X factor will be Brady Heslip, who has shot only 1-of-12 the last two games including 0-of-8 from long distance. Making those stats even harder to stomach is his lack of contributions in other areas, with only 2 assists and at times being exposed on the defensive end as well in about 40 minutes of action over the last two games.

France had Nic Batum in the lineup for the first time in their semi-final victory and looked sharper as a result even though his contribution was limited. They enjoyed a comfortable lead throughout most of the 2nd half, allowing them to rest Parker and Batum for the latter stages of the game.

The advantage at point guard that Canada has enjoyed throughout the tournament will be negated against France not just because of Parker, but also former Raptor Nando De Colo and Turkish league star Thomas Heurtel as well.

Canada and France will face off for the right to go to Rio Sunday at 9am EST on TSN.

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FIBA

Canada earns silver at 2019 FIBA U16 Americas Championships

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Ryan Nembhard Guards Usa Amari Bailey 2019 U16 Fiba Americas
Canadian Point Guard Ryan Nembhard guards USA's Amari Bailey

Canada’s U16 Men’s national team captured a third straight silver medal at the 2019 FIBA Americas championships falling 94-77 to the United States of America in the Gold medal game in Belem, Brazil.

The highly anticipated bout featuring the two top U16 FIBA-ranked teams in the world didn’t disappoint — showcasing upwards of a combined 10 potential NBA draftees.

Team Canada kept the game tight for the first 10 minutes and took their only lead of the game at 17-15 with 2:02 in to play, before a late triple gave the USA a 18-17 lead to close the quarter.

The USA took the game to the Canadians in the second-quarter, outscoring Canada 27-15 for a 45-32 half-time lead.

Canadian Caleb Houstan Dunk 2019 Fiba 16 Americas Championships
Canadian Caleb Houstan throws down a one-hand dunk at 2019 FIBA U16 Americas Championships – Photo: FIBA

Caleb Houstan (Mississauga, Ont.) scored 25 points and three rebounds and finished as the championship’s second leading scorer with 22.8 points per game. Houstan, a silky smooth forward had a tournament high 29 points to become Canada’s top scorer in U16 FIBA Americas competition — breaking Kevin Pangos 28 point record from 2009.

††††Canada showed some bark in the third-quarter with solid defensive stretches and back-to-back dunks, cutting the lead to single digits on multiple occasions and closing in at 57-51 of the Americans with 4:34 to play.

The Americans rallied with a 13-6 run to end third-quarter for a comfortable 72-57 lead and put it in cruise control in the fourth-quarter — stretching the lead to a game-high 21 points.

Team Usa Golden Once Again 2019 Fiba U16 Americas
Christopher Livingston (USA) takes home 2019 FIBA U16 Americas MVP – Photo: FIBA

Despite the loss, the final 17-point deficit ties the lowest spread between the two squads in five championship or semi-finals games at the FIBA Americas tournament.

Team Canada has now lost all five games against the USA at the FIBA U16 Americas championships — dropping three-straight gold medal games — 111-60 in 2017 and 77-60 in 2015 and two semi-finals encounters, 113-70 in 2011 and 126-78 in 2009.

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Ryan Nembhard (Aurora, Ont) wrapped the tournament with another outstanding effort with 21 points, 9 assists and 2 rebounds. Nembhard led the tournament with a total of 54 assists, good for 9 per game, and was Canada’s second leading scorer at 14.3 points per game.

Canadian Enoch Boakye Pulls Double Rebound Against Mexico Fiba U16 Americas
Canadian Enoch Boakye 6’9″ pulls down double-double against Mexico at FIBA U16 Americas – Photo: FIBA

Enoch Boakye (Brampton, Ont) 12 points and 13 rebounds concluded the tournament with his third straight game in double-figures rebounding and was the third top rebounder in the competition at 10.8 per game. Boakye had of two of the tournaments top 10 rebounding performances with 17 against Mexico and 16 against Dominican Republic.

2019 Fiba 16 Americas All Star Team Canadians Caleb Houstan Ryan Nembhard
Canadian’s Caleb Houstan and Ryan Nembhard – 2019 FIBA 16 Americas All Star Team – Photo: FIBA

Both Houstan and Ryan Nembhard were named to the tournaments all-star team alongside Dominican Republic’s Jean Montero — including the USA’s Jalen Durne and tournament MVP Christopher Livingston.

Canada finished the tournament 5-1 with group B victories over Uruguay 101-63, Brazil 90-67, Puerto Rico 96-76 and wins over Mexico 95-78 and 97-81 over the Dominican Republic in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

The U16 Canadian squad has reached the podium five times since the inaugural, bi-annual American zone tournament kicked-off 10 years ago in 2009 — earning three silver and two bronze medals. Canada lost a heart-breaking 65-64 semi-finals loss to Argentina in 2013.

Canada has qualified for the 2020 U17 FIBA World Championships where they will look to improve from their 2018 4th-place finish.



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FIBA

Shaedon Sharpe posterizes Dominican defender at U16 FIBA Americas

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Shaedon Sharpe Posterizes Dominican Defender At U16 Fiba Americas

Canadian 16-year old high-flyer Shaedon Sharpe took off and posterized a Dominican Republic defender at the 2019 FIBA U16 Americas championship in Brazil.

With 35 seconds to play the first-half Sharpe shook off a defender with a sweet pump fake and then took-off baseline and dropped a Jordanesque poster all-over the Dominican defender.


Canada broken a tightly contested semi-finals contest to beat the Dominican Republic 97-81 to reach the finals of the 2016 FIBA U16 Americas championships.

Sharpe finished with 17 points , four rebounds and three assists, shooting 8-for-10 from the field.

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