R.J. Barrett leads Canada to historic win: Full Recap

Photo Courtesy: Canada Basketball

The U19 Canadian Men’s National team takes down the defending champion USA team 99-87 in the Semi-Finals of the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup.

After Rowan Barrett Jr.’s performance against France, not many would believe he could top it in this tournament. Barrett did more than top it. Head coach Roy Rana says Barrett’s performance is, “up there with one of the greatest Canadian performances ever at any level.”

Barrett finished the game with 38 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.


Game Recap


First Half

The game started off very choppy with a lot of fouls being called. Canada wanted to set the tone early giving away no easy baskets and making USA earn it at the line.

Photo Courtesy: FIBA

Barrett made his intentions known early by slashing into the lane and getting his shots to fall through contact. For playing two years ahead of his age group, Barrett showed his pure strength being able to finish plus the foul on multiple occasions. He finished with eleven of Canada’s 17 points in the quarter

Canada struggled closing out possessions on the defensive side allowing USA to have far too many offensive rebounds and score on second chance opportunities.

The Americans held a 23-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Canada’s second leader, Abu Kigab brought his energy and intensity in the second quarter. The Oregon recruit’s timeless motor had him fighting and attacking despite his poor shooting to start the game.

Both Kigab and Barrett were the primary ball handlers due to Lindell Wigginton’s concussion symptoms forced him out for the second straight game.

Canada kept the score close the entire half and then Barrett’s star started to shine even brighter. He took over in the second quarter and became unguardable. Barrett not only scored in bunches but he also grabbed five rebounds in the quarter.

His energy became contagious and fired up Nate Darling to have a positive impact.

With the game tied, Barrett got fouled shooting a three in the final seconds of the half. The young Canadian stayed poised and made all three putting his country up 45-42 at halftime.

Second Half

Canada could not have started the second half much better. A beautiful pass from Darling to find a cutting Barrett who threw down a huge dunk got things started the right way. On the very next possession, Barrett found Kigab who knocked down a three plus the foul and he completed the four point play.

Coach Rana and his team made it a point to focus on the defensive side of the ball and they completely locked down the Americans.

National recruiting analyst, Elias Sbiet noticed Canada never let the USA play their brand of basketball, giving different defensive looks.

“Coach Roy Rana and the staff switched up the defense on them on multiple occasions. They went from a zone to man and different defenses. This is what took the USA out of their flow. You saw that on multiple points during the game Team USA was looking for a shot but didn’t get good looks and that’s because Canada didn’t allow them to play their style,” said Sbiet.

Canada held USA to only 17 points in the third quarter and led 66-59 at the break.

Photo Courtesy: FIBA

Kigab continued to bring his high energy on both ends of the floor in the fourth quarter. He came up with a huge block and finished another and-one.

Canada did well maintaining their focus while managing the USA storm. The Americans took advantage of their height down low, grabbing offensive rebounds and finishing on their second chances. USA finished with a total of 30 offensive rebounds.

Danilo Djuricic had a relatively quiet game but he showed up when it mattered most. Just as the USA were clawing back and gaining momentum, Djuricic hit a big three pointer. The next trip down the floor, Barrett finished at the rim and drew contact to put Canada up by ten.

The Harvard commit didn’t stop there. Late in the quarter during another big American push, Djuricic knocked down another clutch jumper from the perimeter and pumped his fist in celebration.

Canada didn’t look back. They kept their foot on the gas and scored eight points in the final minute to ice the game.

Off a Grant Shephard missed free throw with 30 seconds left, Djuricic fought off three USA players to grab a massive offensive rebound and give Darling two free throws.

Djuricic came back on defence and swatted an American three point attempt.

To cap off a truly historic game for Canada, Djuricic picked off a pass and threw an outlet pass to Darling. Darling tossed up a pass for Shephard to throw down a two-handed slam.

That’s when this historic moment sank in and the celebrations began.


This is one of the most famous wins in Canadian basketball history and it marks a huge moment for Canadian basketball moving forward. Canada is producing special talent and R.J. and the rest of this team are prime examples of that.

Canada will be coming off a major high after this victory but it will be vital for coach Rana to keep his young team focused and hungry. They’ve accomplished a lot but the ultimate goal of winning gold isn’t done yet.

Photo Courtesy: FIBA

Top Performers


Rowan Barrett Jr.: 38 minutes | 38 points | 13 rebounds | 5 assists

Abu Kigab: 14 points | 6 rebounds | 4 assists | 1 block

Nate Darling: 13 points | 3 assists | 2 rebounds | 1 steal

Grant Shephard: 12 points | 5 rebounds | 2 assists

Danilo Djuricic: 8 points | 8 rebounds | 2 blocks | 1 steal

Noah Kirkwood: 6 points | 2 rebounds | 1 assist


Up Next

Photo Courtesy: Canada Basketball

The Canadian Men’s National U19 team is heading to their first-ever Finals at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup. They will be going playing on July 9 at 2:30 PM against Italy for the gold medal.

Italy defeated Spain 69-63 in the other Semi-Final.


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