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Holly MacKenzie

Canada looks to stay undefeated with FIBA Qualifier against Panama

EDMONTON, Alberta (Nov. 13, 2022) -

When: The Canadian Senior Men’s National Team will close out the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup 2023 Americas Qualifiers when they host Panama on Sunday, November 13 at 7:10pm ET at the Expo Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The story continues 🏀<br><br>Canada takes on Panama 🇩🇴 tomorrow as we look to stay undefeated (9-0) to secure the best seed possible for the <a href="">@FIBAWC</a><br><br>⏰: 7:10pm ET / 4:10pm PT<br>📍: Edmonton<br>📺: LIVE on <a href="">@Sportsnet</a><br><br>Tickets 🎟️ still on sale: <a href=""></a><a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FIBAWC</a> | <a href="">@CEBLeague</a><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Canada Basketball (@CanBball) <a href="">November 12, 2022</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

The Canadian Senior Men’s National Team accomplished their goal to qualify for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup with a dominant 94-56 victory over Venezuela on Thursday in Edmonton. The victory moved the team to a perfect 9-0 in qualifiers and saw five different players reach double figures for Canada.  

Things to know heading into Sunday’s game

Hot hand: Kassius Robertson led all scorers in Thursday’s victory, finishing with 16 points in 18 minutes. He was a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor. After the game he spoke about the joy that he and his teammates get from representing Canada as well as how the team’s unselfish style of play makes the Canada Basketball experience even more enjoyable. “We play such a fun style of basketball,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to us who is scoring, who is not scoring, who is on the bench, who is on the court. It’s all fun for us."

On Thursday, it was Robertson who was lights out, but in typical Canada Basketball fashion, the ball found the open man and more often than not, the Canadians made their opponent pay by sinking the open look. In addition to Robertson’s big game, Owen Klassen had an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double, guard Kenny Chery had 12 points to go with seven rebounds and six assists and Conor Morgan and Thomas Scrubb scored 12 points apiece.

Shai and Lu approved: Oklahoma City Thunder players Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort weren't available to participate in this window due to the ongoing NBA season, but that didn’t mean they weren't keeping a close eye on Thursday’s action. After the Thunder defeated the Toronto Raptors on Friday night in Oklahoma City, Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort each shared their confidence in their Team Canada teammates qualifying for the World Cup, while Dort had a special shout out for fellow Montrealer Chery for his strong performance.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">One Team 🇨🇦<a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FIBAWCQ</a> | <a href="">@Sportsnet</a><a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Canada Basketball (@CanBball) <a href="">November 12, 2022</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">🗣️ <a href="">@shaiglalex</a>&amp; <a href="">@luthebeast</a> 🇨🇦 talk about <a href="">@CanBball</a> qualifying for the 2023 <a href="">@FIBAWC</a>! 🙌 <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBA Canada (@NBACanada) <a href="">November 12, 2022</a></blockquote><script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Doing it on defence: While Canada’s offence was clicking in their victory against Venezuela, it was the defensive effort, particularly in the second half, that had Associate Head Coach Nate Bjorkgren raving. After building a 15-point lead at the half, 46-31, Canada held Venezuela to just 56 points in the game. “Our team defence was really locked in there,” Bjorkgren said. “We gave up [25] points in the second half, I think it was 11 in the third and [14] in the fourth, but it doesn’t happen unless you start the game in that way.”

Hungry for more: Though the Canadians accomplished their main goal of this qualifying window by punching their ticket to the World Cup, their focus is now firmly on Sunday’s matchup against Panama. If anyone was questioning the team’s commitment to excellence and improvement, Robertson laid all doubts to rest when he expanded on the team’s mindset ahead of Sunday’s game. “Regardless of if we qualified or if we’ve got a couple more games to go, we’re still out for blood. We’re not letting up…We’re coming to get better as a team, play our style of basketball and dominate as much as we can. We’re not here to lose, no matter who we play.”

Where to watch: Fans in Canada can catch Team Canada in action against Panama on Sportsnet at 7:10pm ET, Sunday, November 13, live from Edmonton.