The Team Canada Senior Men were back in action today against The Bahamas after an excellent performance yesterday to begin their journey to the 2023 FIBA World Cup. If you missed yesterday’s coverage — which included an explanation of what Canada needs to do before qualifying for the World Cup — check it out here.
Today’s match was incredibly important, not only to help Canada secure a top 3 spot in their group, but also to continue to rack up points that will count towards where they place in the standings. In FIBA group stages, point differential is used as a tiebreaker for standings and could be the make-or-break difference for Canada’s World Cup hopes.
After starting slow in yesterday’s game, where they did not extend their lead against The Bahamas until later on, Team Canada came out much stronger this afternoon. Kyle Wiltjer started with a quick 12 points in the first five minutes of the game to build a 10-point lead for Canada early on.
Something that was apparent yesterday and continued today was Canada’s efficiency from three; they hit 5-for-7 from deep in the first quarter. They also shot 63% from the field in the first to lead 34-26 after the first ten minutes.
In the second quarter, Canada stepped up both their defense and their offense, extending the lead to 17 on a quick 11-0 run to kick off the quarter. They would end the half up 12, 58-46, after The Bahamas continued to keep pace and not allow the Canadians to run off on them.
The third quarter saw Canada finally start to extend their lead, helped by Kyle Alexander crashing the offensive glass and getting seven total rebounds. Canada also saw their largest lead ending the third ahead by 24 points.
Canada closed out the game by continuing to extend their lead, with some of the young players stepping up to score down the stretch. Canada was able to secure their second against The Bahamas with a score of 113-77; the 36-point victory leaves Canada with a +78 point differential to end this round of qualifying games.
Key performances today included Kyle Wiltjer with 25 points, two assists, and five rebounds, with 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Phil Scrubb showed out today as well with 13 points, three assists, and four rebounds, scoring 5-for-5 from the field.
Kenny Chery had another stand-out performance today with 11 points, seven assists, and three rebounds, and Kassius Robertson added 15 points and two assists. Another interesting note is that every player on the roster, except for one, was able to get points on the board this afternoon.
It’s probable that we will see a majority of these guys suit up for Canada again in February as the NBA talent will still be in the middle of their season and unable to join Canada in their next round of qualifying matches.
Team Canada will play again on February 24, 2022 against the Dominican Republic, and then on February 27, 2022 against the U.S. Virgin Islands to continue this first round of World Cup qualifying games. All FIBA games can be watched on Sportsnet.