It was a tidy win, a couple or four days late of course, but tidy nonetheless.
Canada finally got a win at the FIBA World Cup today – its first since 2002 in Indianapolis – with a guard-driven 82-60 triumph over Senegal accomplished while most of you were sleeping.
Cory Joseph had 24 points and Kevin Pangos had 13 to help Canada overcome a sluggish start and win its first game in preliminary round action.
After emotionally draining and significant losses to Australia and Lithuania to open the tournament, Canada rebounded against 0-3 Senegal after falling into an early double-digit hole.
The importance of the victory in the grand scheme of things is still to be discovered given the vagaries of FIBA’s world ranking system and the fact the World Cup is less than half finished.
But for ease of mind and to exorcise some demons, it was important for Canada to win, and win thoroughly.
The last time a Canadian senior men’s team won a game at a global tournament was Sept. 3, 2002, when they beat Venezuela to finish 13th of 16 countries at the then-world championships.
And after opening with two losses in Dongguan, China, and going winless in five games in Turkey in 2010, a rather ignominious streak has come to an end.
We’ll get more into what it all means later on and in the next few days but after seeing even longshot hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics dashed by the early losses, getting a win was just good for the psyche, I’d say.
Canada now moves on to Shanghai and the classification round of the 32-country tournament. They will play Germany and Jordan on Saturday and Monday with game times still to be determined.
The classification round guides FIBA to its rankings for the teams 17th through 32nd in the World Cup, rankings that will help fill out the final spots in four Olympic qualification tournaments next July.
It’s almost impossible for Canada to not either earn a spot (the top 16 out of the classification round) or be given a wild card entry into one of the tournaments (they are used to even out regional needs). But a low ranking means a tougher group of better teams next July so Canada could really use two more victories.
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