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Holly MacKenzie

Canada Falls To Argentina Picking Up First Loss in FIBA Men's World Cup Qualifiers 2023


MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina (February 23, 2023) - The Canadian Senior Men’s National Team dropped an 83-72 decision to home-team Argentina on Thursday to open the sixth window of the FIBA Men’s World Cup Americas qualifiers.

The loss was Canada’s first of the qualifiers after becoming the only team in the Americas to enter the sixth and final window with a perfect 10-0 record.

“For both teams out there it was hard to get shots up,” Team Canada Associate head coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “There was a lot of physicality and challenging plays and shots were challenged and contested.”

Thomas Scrubb led Canada with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals in the loss while Kenny Chery and Phil Scrubb added 12 points apiece. Jackson Rowe had eight points for a Canadian team that shot 40 percent in the loss while giving up 48 percent shooting to Argentina.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Putting in work on the road 😤 <a href="">@tscrubb11</a> earns <a href="">@ToyotaCanada</a> Drive of the Game honours doing just about everything against Argentina tonight <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DOTG</a><a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FIBAWCQ</a><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Canada Basketball (@CanBball) <a href="">February 24, 2023</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

“We ask a lot of Tommy Scrubb,” Bjorkgren said. “We ask him to guard multiple positions, many different players. He’s capable of doing all that. He can guard 1-5 on the floor. He’s a heck of a rebounder. We asked him to guard [Facundo] Campazzo some, we ask a lot of Tommy. He’s been with us for all 11 games that we’ve played. There have been two guys, Tommy Scrubb and Phil Scrubb [who have played in all 11 games of qualifiers].”

Facundo Campazzo led Argentina with a 13-point, 11-assist double-double, while Nicolas Brussino had 13 points and Carlos Delfino added 12 as five players reached double figures.

“Campazzo’s a really good player and he’s got really good pieces around him,” Bjorkgren said. “He’s tough because he can score, he gets to the foul line alot. He passes it, he makes the right play. You’ve just got to keep trying to give him different looks.”

After leading by a point, 18-1, at the end of the first quarter, Canada began the second quarter by giving up eight straight points to Argentina.

While Campazzo finished with 11 of Argentina’s 20 team assists, Canada recorded just 11 assists as a team while turning the ball over 18 times. Argentina had just 11 turnovers in the game.

“I think the turnovers gave us a bit of trouble in transition defence,” Thomas Scrubb said. “Once they got in transition it was hard for us to get set on defence so they got a few more open shots and easy layups.”

Jahvon Henry-Blair made a pair of free throws to give Canada their first points of the quarter with 7:41 remaining in the half. A pull-up jumper from  Rowe brought Canada within three, but Argentina’s Juan Vaulet scored on a layup to extend the lead back to five. After a steal from Campazzo led to a layup from Marcos Delia that extended Argentina’s lead to 31-24, Canada called timeout with 4:30 remaining in the half.

A dunk for Maximo Fjellerup extended Argentina’s lead to nine, until Thomas Scrubb found Chery for three. Another basket from Chery brought Canada within nine at the break.

After winning the opening quarter, Canada was outscored by Argentina 23-13 in the second as Argentina shot 46 percent from the floor, compared to 38 percent for Canada in the half.

“It was tough out there,” Bjorkgren said. “I thought our guys fought. I liked our defence. I wish we would have finished a little bit better on offence, but it was a hard-fought game. Give Argentina a lot of credit. Great fans, great players, great coaches. It was a fun atmosphere to play in today.”

Argentina opened the second half with a 5-0 run for Patrick Garino as they extended their lead to 45-31. The third was all Argentina to start as the home team went ahead by 22 before the Canadians closed the quarter on an 11-0 run.

A turnaround jumper from Prince Oduro kicked off the run. After a step-back three from Thomas Scrubb, free throws from Oduro trimmed the deficit to 16 points, 61-46, with 1:46 remaining in the quarter. After a turnover from Campazzo, an Oduro offensive rebound led to a three for Bell-Haynes who was fouled on the play. Bell-Haynes made the free throw to complete the four-point play and cap the 11-0 run that got Canada within 11, 61-50, heading into the fourth.

Juan Fernandez scored to open the fourth quarter scoring for Argentina, but Phill Scrubb drilled a three to make it a 10-point game. A pair of free throws from Chery brought Canada within nine, but Argentina responded with a three from Brussino. After a jumper from Delfino extended Argentina’s lead to 15 points, Phil Scrubb sank another three-pointer. Phil Scrubb connected on his third three-pointer of the quarter, but Canada was still trailing by nine with 3:46 remaining. A three from Brussino made it a 15-point game with 2:49 remaining. Despite the win being out of reach, Canada continued pushing until the final buzzer.

Up next for the Canadians is a match-up against Venezuela on Sunday to close out the sixth and final window of qualifiers. With a trip to the World Cup already secured, Bjorkgren wants his team to continue making the most out of each game they get to play together.

“We’ve got one more to go in Venezuela,” Bjorkgren said. “We’ll learn from this one. A lot to learn from this one, but I thought we did a lot of nice things. We ran up against a pretty good team.”