Canadians Fall to Australian Boomers in FIBA World Cup Opener
It was a comeback cut short.
Heading into the second half down 12, the Canadians dug deep and exploded for a 37 point third quarter, entering the final frame up by a single point. That was when the Australians turned it up a notch and blew past the Canadians, outscoring them 32-15 to take a 108-92 win in the FIBA World Cup opener.
A Canadian team missing most of its stars and playing in one of the toughest groups in the tournament, Nick Nurse’s squad was able to keep themselves in the game against one of the World Cup favourites until Australia’s talent took the game over. Khem Birch led the way for Canada with 18 points, while Cory Joseph and Newmarket’s own Kevin Pangos scored 16 and 14 points respectively.
“We had some extraordinary moments tonight,” said Head Coach Nurse following the loss. “We’ve just got to stretch them out a little bit and go from there.”
The Canadians will now square off against the Lithuanians who blew past Senegal earlier in the day. With Australia looking like a heavy favourite in the group, a loss for Canada on Tuesday would all but eliminate them from the tournament.
“I guess we are going to have to find out,” Nurse said on whether the Canadians can bounce back and take down Lithuania. “We don’t really have a choice other than to learn what we can from this game and pick ourselves up and come out and play. For us, we would have probably thought we would have to win the first two [games] to have any chance — and obviously the third [against Senegal on Thursday].
“We were hoping to get this one tonight and we didn’t so that puts us in a kind of must-win scenario for the next one.”
On Sunday, the Australian were led by Matthew Dellavedova, who cashed in six three-pointers on the day, en route to a game-high 24 points. Patty Mills added 15 points of his own, while Bogut finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. Three other Australians finished the game in double-figure points.
“The start wasn’t very good and the end wasn’t very good and I thought the middle was excellent,” Nurse said. “We didn’t seem to be catching any breaks with the ball bouncing our way early, and didn’t shoot it especially well … But we regrouped and put a heck of a third quarter together. Just had another bad stretch to start the fourth and then a really bad stretch in the fourth there where we just couldn’t shut their water off.”
The Canadians will now be forced to slow down the duo of Domantas Sabonis and former Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas on Tuesday.