These have been very important learning times for the men’s basketball team, great experience for what might await when things are real, and they continue to pass each test.
They got into a knock-down, drag-‘em-out physical battle with New Zealand early this morning and survived quite well, winning 103-100 in overtime for their second successive victory over the Tall Blacks.
Kyle Wiltjer, who missed an open corner three at the regulation time buzzer, had seven points in the first three minutes of overtime and four clutch free throws in the final minute and Kevin Pangos hit a big three as Canada pulled away for the win.
It was a typical international game, hard screens (some of which might even have been legal) with in-your-chest defence and a game just scrambled enough to always be close.
And not having played a game like that in their World Cup preparation, it was important for Canada to go through it.
Phil Scrubb had 24 points to lead Canada, Owen Klassen had 10 points and10 rebounds and Pangos had 17 points and nine assists to lead Canada.
Canada gave Khem Birch the day off, Kaza Kajami-Keane sat with an ankle injury and Andrew Nembhard played less than a minute – I’m trying to reach people in Sydney to find out just what’s going on but the kid looked okay on the bench – but still gutted out a win.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s more important that they got the experience rather than whether they won or lost but winning beats losing, to be sure.
Canada could have handled some last-minute full court pressure a bit better in the overtime and committed a couple of senseless fouls but managed to hang on to win.
We’ll have more on it later once we get some time to chat with folks in Australia and some tape of the post-game interviews but Canada is now 4-2 in its World Cup prep with one game left, Monday in Sydney against the United States. Their first World Cup game is Sept. 1 in China against Australia.
Meanwhile, the Cory Joseph thing got a bit murky when Nick Nurse said our report was incorrect and that Joseph has a flight booked to meet the team in China.
It kind of goes what our final version of the story says, that Canada Basketball keeps holding out hope that he’ll arrive to rejoin the team and since they don’t go to China until next week after the Monday game against the United States, I guess we’ll see.
“He’s 100 per cent still coming,” was how Nurse put it in an Australian TV interview today, adding that Joseph is booked to arrive in China ahead of the team.
I’m going to stand by what I wrote and who I got it from so it’ll lay dormant for a little bit.
It’s sort of the same thing with Brady Heslip. Canada Basketball folks tell me every day he’s expected to be back but he’s not back yet and until someone actually lands on the ground in either Australia or China, it’s all just talk.
All right, we need to get to filling up the weekend mailbag, folks.
We were really light on submissions last time out and while there’s a little bit there now, there’s always room for more.
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If you want to click on firstname.lastname@example.org and as away, it’d be greatly appreciated. And following a week where we had questions about fruits and vegetables and recipe for a tomato/peanut butter sandwich, you know the limits on topics are endless.
I’m not entirely sure who thought it was anything close to a good idea to put an NFL exhibition game in Winnipeg on an August Thursday night but did he or she not even check with people here in Toronto about the lunacy of that idea?
I read that they might – might – get a half-filled stadium, that they had to slash ticket prices to even get that and having watched the abysmal failure of Bills In Toronto, I can’t understand any promoter trying it anywhere.
This is NFL exhibition football in a CFL hotbed, how in the world anyone thought it was a good idea is beyond me.
One last Australia basketball story.
The USA is playing the Boomers in Melbourne on Thursday and Saturday and, if memory serves, it’ll be the first time they’ve been there since a pre-Olympic exhibition in 2000.
I was at that game – it was Vince, I was in Sydney for the Games anyway and Mother Star apparently had nothing but money and liked a good story – and it was pretty wild.
At one point, Vince got into some kind of minor tussle with either Andrew Gaze or Shane Heal, one of the Aussie icons, and it did not sit well with the fans.
Hearing the chant “Carter is a wanker” float down from the stands truly was unique. Never heard it before or since and I recall my American friends being perplexed by it. Pretty sure none of them had ever heard the word before.