Photo Courtesy: FIBA

Canada are World Champions!

The Men’s National Team crushes Italy 79-60 to capture the gold medal at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup.

This historic win is Canada’s first-ever FIBA world basketball title at any level.

R.J. Barrett led the way once again with 18 points and 12 rebounds but a complete team effort won the game for Canada.

Nate Darling and Abu Kigab both finished with 12 points each. Kigab also grabbed 10 rebounds making this his fourth double-double of the tournament.

 

Game Recap

First Half

Barrett continued where he left off against the USA. He stole a pass, took the ball down the court and finished in the paint while getting fouled.

Photo Courtesy: FIBA

Canada attacked Italy quickly and jumped out to a 12-2 lead. The two big men, Amidou Bamba and Prince Oduro controlled the paint right from the start. They dominated a small Italian team that had nobody who could guard them down low. Oduro had six points and three rebounds in the first quarter alone.

Italy started the game very soft and allowed the Junior Boys to set the tone. Barrett was able to get to the rim whenever he touched the ball and Lindell Wigginton was allowed open looks and also get inside.

Photo Courtesy: FIBA

Wigginton missed the past two games with concussion symptoms but the Iowa State commit didn’t miss a beat coming off the bench. He looked to attack the basket aggressively as he loves to do.

Barrett and Wigginton both had seven points to lift Canada to a commanding 24-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The fast tempo of the second quarter led to both team’s offenses clicking and finding ways to score.

This perfectly suits Darling and Kigab’s style of play. Darling’s passing and shooting ability matched with the IQ to make the right play makes him dangerous when running out in transition. He got himself in rhythm, knocking down a couple shots.

Kigab put up his usual high rebounding numbers and then started to get in the flow offensively in the second quarter. He was able to get to his favourite spot and knock down his free throw line jumper twice in a row. On the next possession he made a beautiful looking shot from the perimeter.

Danilo Djuricic had a quiet shooting night, making only one field goal, which was a three pointer, but his effort on the glass did not go unnoticed. Djuricic made impact plays that won’t be on the score sheet. He made many key defensive stops throughout the game and got after every missed shot.

With Canada’s offense clicking in the second quarter, they pushed their lead to 51-36 at halftime.

Second Half

Even with a 15-point lead coming into the third quarter, the game was far from over. Italy was fresh off a 16-point come from behind victory in the Semi-Finals against Spain.

Canada came out determined not to give Italy any hope. The Junior Boys started the second half similar to how they started the game. Feed the big man down low. This time it was Bamba dominating the paint and causing Italy problems.

Bambi tried bringing down the rim when Barrett found him with a perfect dime that the big man threw down hard.

Feeding Bamba early opened up the floor for the rest of the quarter and Canada took advantage.

Photo Courtesy: FIBA

Darling caught fire while handling the ball. The UAB guard controlled the flow and made all the right decisions. 

The U19 Canadians had a dominating third quarter. Darling put a dagger into Italy making a three late in the quarter and extending his team’s lead to 69-48.

Canada continued attacking in the fourth quarter.

Noah Kirkwood is another example of Canada’s incredible depth. Kirkwood is able to come off the bench and impact the game immediately. In this contest, the Kanata, ON native hit one three pointer that put Canada up 24 and out of reach of the Italians.

Photo Courtesy: FIBA

As the game started to wind down, Barrett showed his elite passing ability. The margin of victory could have been much larger if Barrett’s teammates finished their looks late on but luckily the game had already been won.

The clock hit zero, the buzzer went off and Canada have been crowned World Champions. Every player played their role and bought into head coach Roy Rana’s system and it paid off.

R.J. Barrett was deservingly awarded with MVP of the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup. He averaged 21.6 points (1st), 8.3 rebounds (11th), 4.6 assists (8th) and 1.7 steals (4th).

Photo Courtesy: FIBA

Both Barrett and Kigab were named in the All-Star Five of the tournament. The other three All-Star Five selections were Italy teammates Lorenzo Bucarelli and Tommaso Oxilia and Payton Pritchard of the United States.

Photo Courtesy: FIBA

This monumental moment will guide Canadian basketball to new heights and inspire a whole new generation.

This group of young men along with the coaching staff accomplished something that might have been seen as just a dream, especially after the loss to Spain. The team bounced back after that loss in the group phase and played the best basketball by any Canadian team.

This young team had the nation watching them make history and even some Canadian NBA talent.

Congratulations to the players, the coaches and all of CanBall. The work behind the scenes from everyone is why Canada are gold medalists. The wave of elite Canadian talent is well on its way.

 

Top Performers

Rowan Barrett Jr.: 18 points (12/14 FT) | 12 rebounds | 4 assists | 1 steal

Abu Kigab: 12 points | 10 rebounds | 2 assists | 1 steal

Nate Darling: 12 points | 4 rebounds | 2 assists

Lindell Wigginton: 11 points | 3 rebounds | 3 assists

Prince Oduro: 11:45 minutes | 8 points | 5 rebounds | 1 assist

Amidou Bamba: 10:49 minutes | 6 points | 7 rebounds | 1 assist | 1 block

Danilo Djuricic: 10 rebounds | 3 points | 2 assists

Devon Imrie

Written by Devon Imrie

Devon Imrie is a 23-year-old journalist from Mississauga, Ontario. Contributor for North Pole Hoops. As a fourth year journalism student at Humber College he has taken in basketball at various levels providing National team coverage, high school and NPH Exposure Camps.

Website: https://twitter.com/devonimrie10

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