Well, the good times couldn’t last forever. Canada suffered it’s first loss in the FIBA Men’s World Cup tournament this morning, losing a close game to Brazil, 68-65. Their place in the tournament AND their Olympic hopes are now in jeopardy.
Things can change QUICKLY in this tournament. With Latvia beating Spain earlier this morning, it was impossible for Canada to clinch a spot in the quarterfinal today, and also impossible for them to be outright eliminated. Yet, winning obviously would have helped them going into Sunday’s match against Spain.
Now, Canada will have to fight to stay in the World Cup tournament on Sunday. BOTH games in Group L will be win or go home for all teams. Latvia will face Brazil for a spot in the quarter final, as well as Canada and Spain.
So what went wrong today for Canada? A lot
Canada had an abysmal day shooting wise. Lu Dort (17 points) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (23 points) were the only two Canadians in double digits.
RJ Barrett only scored four points in the game — one free throw in the third quarter and one three point shot as the clock wound down at the end. He went 1-8 from the field, 1-4 from three and 1-2 from the free throw line. Obviously he is not the sole reason the team lost today, but as a core member of this team, his production is essential to their success.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who had come in clutch for Canada in previous games with his sharp shooting, was held to three points, shooting 1-8 from three overall. Again, not the overall deciding factor but another one of those things that needs improvement if Canada is going to make it further in this tournament.
Dillon Brooks ended the game with two points, Kelly Olynyk with nine, Dwight Powell with five. Not a good offensive day for the Canadians.
As a team, Canada 33% from the field (21-63) and 27% from three (8-30). Not ideal at all. Their total 65 points was the lowest they’ve scored in the entire tournament.
Activity on the Glass
Brazil’s team was obviously bigger than Canada, which showed. Former Raptor Bruno Caboclo had a revenge against Canada game with 19 points, 13 rebounds and led the way for Brazil.
In terms of rebounds, Brazil’s overall 43 rebounds as opposed to Canada’s 37 was huge in Brazil’s success.
FIBA’s five foul rule doesn’t seem so drastic than the NBA’s six foul rule on paper — but it’s huge. For the second game in a row, Dillon Brooks found himself in foul trouble with four fouls early in the second half. He was forced to sit through most of the second half, meaning Canada lost a huge defensive and physical presence — not good when facing a big Brazilian team.
Dwight Powell was also in foul trouble down the stretch, and ended up fouling out late in the game. His length was proving useful when it came to rebounding and defending the bigger Brazilian players, so the loss was big for Canada.
Canada plays Spain Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. It’s win or go home.
Luckily, Canada recently beat Spain, in Spain, prior to the World Cup. It was a fight to the finish 85-80 win in overtime, but it was a win. RJ Barrett was huge in that match, so hopefully his energy is reinvigorated when he faces them again.
Head Coach for Canada, Jordi Fernandez, is also familiar with the Spanish team, having been an assistant coach within the program earlier in his career.
Raptors fans will also recognize a familiar face on the Spanish team, as Juancho Hernangomez suits up for his team. Hernangomez played for the Toronto Raptors last season, before being released from the team. He’ll face the country he lived in for a year.
The Spanish team is also coached by former Raptors assistant coach Sergio Scariolo — who most recently was up for the Raptors head coaching position ALONG WITH Jordi Fernandez. Both coaches made it to the final round before being passed on for Darko Rajakovic. They;ll face each other for the first time as head coaches.
Not to mention, Jordi Fernandez is literally Spanish.
If the tournament implications AND the Olympic implications weren’t enough, this game will have a lot of outside drama coming in to shake it up as well.
When asked post game what he wanted to say to Canadian fans after this disappointing loss, Lu Dort had a simple message: “Trust Us.”
If there was ever a time to put your trust in a Canadian Men’s Basketball team, it’s now.