Canadian Junior National Team: Down, But Not Out
RIGA, LATVIA– The Canadian Junior Men’s National Team (JMNT) opened up the second round of the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship with an 83-54 loss to the United States of America (4-0) on Monday, putting Canada (1-3) into a tie for fifth place with Egypt (1-3) in Group F.
According to JMNT head coach Greg Francis, the team played well early on but just couldn’t remain consistent.
INJURY UPDATE: Negus Webster-Chan suffered an ankle injury , it is not yet clear when he will return.
“The guys came out in the first five minutes and hung with the Americans but we got out rebounded and turnovers hurt us,” he said.
Sim Bhullar (Toronto, Ont.) finished with a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds for the Canadians, with Junior Lomomba (Montreal, Que.) and Dyshawn Pierre (Whitby, Ont.) each chipping in with 11.
For the United States, James Bell had the hot hand, pouring in a game-high 16 points, going 4-for-6 from 3-point territory while collecting eight rebounds to lead an American attack that saw every player on the roster make at least one field goal.
As impressively balanced as the Americans’ offence was, it was their defence that really won the game for them as they managed to hold Canada to just 30 percent from the field, including a dismal 3-of-22 from behind the arc.
This defensive intensity, according to Pierre, was because the U.S. attacked the Canadian ball handlers and crashed the offensive glass.
“Tough to score under the hoop as the USA guys are very aggressive and work hard but I feel we worked just as hard just nothing would fall for us and too many O-boards,” he said.
On the flipside, Canada’s defence wasn’t all that bad as it managed to contain the tournament’s second-highest offence to 83 points even though it was without guard Negus Webster-Chan (Scarborough, Ont.), who was unable to play due to a foot injury he suffered in the JMNT’s previous match with Lithuania.
After the first quarter, Canada was down 21-14, but a strong effort from the United States held Canada to nine points on 4-of-20 shooting in the frame.
The second half was played a bit more competitively by the JMNT but they could not cut into the lead that the United States had built up in the first half.
Next up for Canada is a match with Egypt, a team that most recently lost to Croatia (3-1) in an 83-81 thriller. The match will be held tomorrow with a tip-off time set for 10:00 am local time (3:00 am ET) and, because both Canada and Egypt are at the bottom of the Group F standings, it is an important match for Canada.
“We will focus on Egypt next,” Francis said. “It’s a big game for us as we have to win that to keep our chances alive.”
PHOTO COURTESY: FIBA