The thermostat for forecasting the growth of Canadian basketball is often measured by the granular steps taken at youth international events.
Showcasing the ever-growing Canadian basketball pipeline, No. 2 Team Canada outlasted No. 3 Spain, 81-77 in a tightly contested and well-played opening quarter-finals game to reach the 2021 FIBA World Cup semi-finals in Riga, Latvia.
The win sets up an excepted and highly anticipated semi-finals match-up between rivals and defending champions, United States of America.
Caleb Houstan scored 11 of his game-high 25 points in the deciding fourth-quarter and seven-foot-fou center Zach Edey notched his fourth double-double of the tournament with 24 points, 15 rebounds 4 blocks.
“We just stayed at it, we stayed aggressive. Going to Zach (Edey) early in the second half really spaced it out for the guards and wings. He was killing all game. That kind of opened it up and our offence was flowing more.” discussed Houstan following the game.
Edey is on pace to become the first Canadian to lead the FIBA U-19 tournament in rebounding, double-doubles and player efficiency.
“Just down the stretch executing. We felt we were the better team. We weren’t playing like it the whole game. But we felt if we executed, we could get a bucket and get stops.”
Nana Owusu-Anane once again came off the Canadian bench and provided a spark with 10 points and 8 rebounds. Ryan Nembhard fought off three first-half fouls, adding 8 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.
Canada was atrocious from the three-point line, going an abysmal 1-of-16, with Houstan knocking down the only three-pointer of the game for the Canadians.
Team Canada out-worked Spain on the glass with a 51-41 advantage, outscoring the Spaniards 46-28 in the paint.
It will be a battle of undefeated teams as Canada (5-0) takes on the United States (5-0) for a chance to advance to the gold medal game.
The U.S. squad features Jaden Ivey and Caleb Furst two of Edey’s teammates with the Purdue Boliermakers, “it’s gonna be fun, it’s gonna be great. I know those guys, I watch them. Jaden and I played with him all year. I respect the hell out of him.”
Canada 22-2 All-time versus the United States at FIBA Youth Events
Canada is 1-5 all-time against the U.S. at the FIBA U19 World Cup tournaments dating back to their first meeting on August 17, 1979. The United States has outscored Canada 574-424 in those six meetings, winning by an average of 32 points. Furthermore, the USA holds a 22-2 all-time win-loss record against Canada in all FIBA youth competitions.
Behind a memorable tournament from RJ Barrett, Canada beat a heavily favorite United States 99-87 on their way to claiming the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup Gold medal.
Levon Kendall’s 40-point, 12-rebound masterpiece against a star-studded Team USA (Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay, Glen Davis) at the 2005 FIBA U21 World Championships on August 12, 2005 serves as the only other time Canada defeated the U.S, eeking out a 93-90 victory.