SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (February 17, 2021) -- Canada's Senior Men’s National Team came away with a thrilling 95-93 victory over the U.S. Virgin Islands in Puerto Rico on Wednesday. The win came courtesy of a Kyle Landry bucket at the buzzer to cap a furious final quarter between the two teams.
“As soon as it went in, I was watching the clock because I wasn’t sure when the buzzer was going to sound,” Landry said. “I heard [the buzzer] sound and I just, I was happy. I was laughing. Phil came flying from behind and jumped on my back. It was a good feeling. It was a win. The most important thing is we got that win.”
Landry’s game-winner came from a pass from Anthony Bennett, who saved a broken play under pressure.
“I thought we got a little bit lucky,” Senior Men's National Team Associate Head Coach Gordie Herbert said of the final possession. “There was a deflection. We wanted to run a slip off a high pick and get penetration into the paint. The ball came to Anthony Bennett, he made a great pass and Kyle Landry finished well. A little lucky, but give our guys credit.”
Bennett says he was channeling Canada’s greatest with the assist.
”I got the loose ball at the top of the key and I had to channel my No. 7 Team Canada Steve Nash,” Bennett said. “I saw Kyle underneath the basket, I had to throw him a dime pass and he finished it. Just like that.”
Canada was led by Aaron Best’s 28-point effort, while Walter Hodge also scored 28 to lead the U.S. Virgin Islands. In addition to the assist to Landry, Bennett added 17 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots, while Kadre Gray added 11 points and Kaza Kajami-Keane added nine points, nine assists and six rebounds. Ivan Aska added 22 points for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Team Canada won despite shooting just 39 percent from the floor in the game, while giving up 46 percent shooting to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Helping to make up for this shooting disparity was Canada’s success from deep as the Canadians connected on 13-of-39 attempts from three, compared to five made threes for U.S. Virgin Islands.
Though Canada started the game strong and led by eight, 28-20 after the opening quarter, the U.S. Virgin Islands only got better as the game went on. By halftime, Canada’s lead was down to one, 47-46. Best led Canada with 11 points in the first half.
In the third, it was all Best as the Scarborough, Ont. native exploded for a 15-point quarter to help keep Canada in front and head into the final frame ahead by five, 74-69.
The fourth quarter was a test of endurance. Team Canada opened its largest lead of the game with 6:26 remaining to go ahead by nine on a three-pointer from Phil Scrubb. From there, the U.S. Virgin Islands started its comeback. With Canada leading 86-78, the U.S. Virgin Islands went on a 7-0 run to get within a point before a pair of free throws from Bennett extended Canada’s lead to three. A three-point play from Romani Hansen tied the game at 88, and then a long two from Hodge put the Virgin Islands ahead by two with 1:08 remaining. After free throws from Best and a three-pointer from Hodge, Canada trailed by three and needed a bucket with under a minute remaining. Enter Phil Scrubb, who drilled a three-pointer to tie the game at 93 with 46 seconds remaining.
The final 31 seconds of the game belonged to Kyle Landry. On the defensive end, it was Landry stepping in to take the charge and force a turnover to give Canada possession back. On the offensive end, it was Landry who scored at the buzzer to give Canada the game. The game-winner was Landry’s lone field goal attempt and make of the game and couldn’t have come at a better time.
The final play was fitting for the game, according to Best.
“It was pretty much a display of what the whole game was,” Best said. “It was a roller-coaster ride. It was ugly but, a win’s a win. Hats off to Virgin Islands, they’re a tough team. A tough, tough team.”
Up next for Canada is a rematch with the U.S. Virgin Islands on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET, live on DAZN.