Canada basketball
Canada Basketball

Canada defeats China to finish Group Phase 2-0, advances to FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament semifinal

VICTORIA, British Columbia (June 30, 2021) -- The Senior Men’s National team advanced to the semifinals of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament with a dominant 109-79 victory against China on Tuesday.

The victory was a well-balanced one for Canada as the team had seven players reach double figures, led by a 20-point performance from Andrew Wiggins, 16 points from RJ Barrett and 14 points from Andrew Nicholson. China was led by a 24-point performance from Mingxuan Hu in the loss.

“It was a hard fought game from both sides,” Wiggins said. “We're still learning to play together, you know, it's a new squad. But every game we're getting better, you know, every moment we are on the court together guys are, you know, the chemistry is building. We’re getting more comfortable, and hopefully we can keep it going.

“When you play together, the game comes easy,” Wiggins continued. “[When] everyone’s in a good rhythm, we know everyone’s gonna get after it offensively, defensively.”

Canada shot 43 percent from the floor in the win, including 40 percent from three where they connected on 17-of-43 attempts from long range. Eight different players made at least one three-pointer for Canada, including Wiggins, Barrett, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Luguentz Dort each hitting three three-pointers apiece.

“We’ve got unselfish guys,” Wiggins said. “We all want to see each other win, do good, and out there we’re just trying to play aggressive, play to win, play the right way. I feel like if we keep playing that way, keep playing together, then the sky’s the limit for us.”

Though the game was close through the first eight minutes of the first quarter, Canada built an eight-point advantage to lead 29-17 after the first 10 minutes of action. They didn’t trail again.

“I thought we did a good job,” Nurse said. “China came out really ready to play. We knew that, and we were on a back-to-back, we did a good job of building the lead. We expected them to keep coming and we knew they had good shooters. They strung together a few threes on us there to come back in a couple of different stretches of the game, but for the most part, I thought we did a good job of challenging enough of their shots and limiting their second shots and we certainly did a great job at the offensive end today.”

Canada’s offensive ball movement resulted in 30 team assists on 36 made field goals as team captain Cory Joseph finished with a game-high seven assists, and Barrett and Alexander-Walker each added five.

“We have a lot of guys on this team that, at the end of the day, can put the ball in the hoop, that can play at a high level, that do play at a high level,” Wiggins said. “When they're making shots it makes the game easier for everybody. The floor starts to open up. Everyone’s in a great rhythm. We’re playing together, so it’s winning basketball.”

After winning the second quarter 32-27, Canada held a 59-46 advantage at the half, and then went into the fourth ahead 79-65.

Wiggins scored five quick points to open the fourth, all at the free throw line, to open the scoring in the final quarter. A three-pointer from Mychal Mulder made it a 20-point advantage for Canada and then the final layup from Mulder gave the team its largest lead of the game at 30 points.

As Nurse mentioned, the Canadians did a stellar job at limiting China’s second-chance points, outrebounding China 55-37, including 20-10 on the offensive glass. Dwight Powell narrowly missed out on a double-double, finishing with 12 points and nine rebounds, while guard Alexander-Walker also added eight boards.

With the victory, Canada advances to the semifinals where they await the second-place team from Group B, one of Czech Republic, Turkey or Uruguay. Canada will have rest days on Thursday and Friday and play their next game on Saturday. Fans in Canada can catch all of the action live on CBC and online on DAZN.