Canada’s student men’s team will play for the bronze medal after a tough 78-68 loss to the Russian Federation at the 27th FISU Summer Universiade. Team Canada’s record at the competition – also known as the World University Games – is now 6-1.
The Russian squad came out in the first quarter playing with an aggressive edge. Buoyed by a strong hometown crowd, Russia pushed the pace as Canada fell behind early. After 10 minutes of play, the Russian side had built a 22-11 lead. The Russians continued to push ahead and extended the lead to 25 before Canada finished with a solid response over the half’s final minutes. Canada ended the period showing signs of life, but still trailed 43-26 at the break.
A more even third quarter saw Canada continue to compete with the Russians. The two teams traded chances throughout the second-half opener, but Canada fell behind 64-44 by the end of the frame. The final 10 minutes saw Team Canada battle back with a determined effort. The Red and White started to execute on both sides of the court, getting key defensive stops while also finishing in the Russian end. Canada outscored Russia 24-14 in the quarter, but could not erase its first-half deficit.
Toronto, Ont. native Daniel Mullings led the way for Canada with 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Fellow Ontarians Melvin Ejim and Brady Heslip also notched a dozen points on the day. Heslip’s points all came from beyond-the-arc as the Burlington product continued to shoot the ball well from long range. The game’s full set of statistics can be found here.
“We gave them too many looks and let them get into a rhythm because we turned the ball over so much. Twenty-three turnovers is too many to give a team like that,” said head coach Jay Triano, when speaking about the match to Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS).
He added that, “As a group we talked about not playing the outcome, we talked about playing every possession. That’s how you become a good basketball team and that’s why we’re here.
Triano and his charges will need to put this loss – the first of their summer following a 9-0 tournament in China – behind them as they prepare for the bronze-medal match on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. (ET). In the bout for third place, Canada will face Serbia, who lost 65-62 to Australia in the other semifinal match-up.