The victory was a commanding one led by a 30-point performance from Benedict Mathurin, 14 points from Zach Edey and 11 points from Ryan Nembhard. Japan was led by a 13 point performance from Java Eo Yoneyama in the loss.
“We made a great step today as a team,” Head Coach Paul Weir said. “Having a short turnaround and [facing] a team that spreads the floor and shoots from all 5 spots presented some first-time challenges for us. We defended the three and again played better as the game went on. So I’m excited about this group and how we keep growing every day.”
Canada did a spectacular job at limiting Japan’s second-chance points, outrebounding Japan 61-33, including 22-11 on the offensive glass. Edey led the way with a team-high 15 rebounds, while Caleb Houstan and Nana Owusu-Anane also added eight boards.
“We grinded it out. It was close in the beginning and we picked up the defence,” Houstan said. “[We] started offensive and defensive rebounding and then we blew it open mid-third quarter.”
Though the game was close through the first half, Canada built a seven-point advantage to lead 40-33 at the break. They didn’t trail again.
Canada shot 48 percent from the floor in the win, including 34 percent from three where they connected on 10-of-29 attempts from beyond the arc. Six of those three-pointers came from Mathurin, including two from Nembhard.
“I thought it was a good team win today,” Nembhard said. “We have so many weapons and everyday it could be a new guy that has a big game. So far in the tournament we have started fairly slow so I think once we can eliminate those slow starts we will be in good shape.”
After winning the third quarter 36-21, Canada held a 76-54 advantage heading into the fourth.
Nembhard scored a quick three-pointer to open the fourth. Another three-pointer soon after from Mathurin gave the team its largest lead of the game at 34 points.
Canada will play again on Tuesday as they face Senegal at 5 a.m. ET. Canadians can catch all of the action streaming live and free on FIBA YouTube.