TORONTO (July 7, 2022) -- The Canadian U23 men’s national team dropped a hard-fought 79-72 decision to Italy on Thursday at GLOBL JAM, but still finished with a strong showing in the round-robin phase of the tournament.
Guglielmo Caruso scored 14 points to lead Italy, while Federico Zampini added 13 points and Liam Udom finished with 12 points, including 10 in the decisive third quarter when Italy took control.
Stefan Smith scored 17 points to lead Canada, while Marcus Carr finished with 13 points, five rebounds, seven assists and a steal in the loss.
“I think it’s just confidence, it’s all mental,” Smith said of his game-high 17 points. “I put in a lot of reps at the gym and I’ve been shooting all my life. It’s just about [continuing to] get them up and they’re going to fall eventually.”
Canada lost despite leading throughout the first half, and holding a six-point advantage, 38-32, at the break. After scoring 23 points in the opening quarter, Canada scored just 26 points in the second and third quarters combined and was nearly outscored in the third by Udom himself.
“I think there’s a lot of talent, every team here is a good team,” Smith said. “We came out in the first half with great energy, great focus, great determination. In the second half, we lacked that a little bit. I think we’ve got to understand we’ve got to put a full 40 [minutes] together. We can’t put in 20 minutes, we can’t put in 30 minutes, we’ve got to play a full 40 minutes if we want to win this thing.”
Italy scored the first five points of the second half to trim Canada’s lead to one before Smith scored on a floater at the end of the shot clock for the home side’s first field goal since the 3:48 mark of the second quarter.
Emanuel Miller found Quincy Guerrier cutting baseline for an easy dunk to keep Canada in front by three, but a three-pointer for Zampini tied the game at 42-42 with 5:20 remaining in the third. A defensive lapse for Canada resulted in an open look from deep for Udom and he made the Canadians pay, hitting the three-pointer and then following that up with a steal before driving the length of the court for an easy dunk.
Ryan Nembhard found Carr in transition for a layup, but Maximilian Ladurner responded with a jumper to keep Italy in front by four, 53-49, after three. Canada struggled from the floor in the third, shooting just 4-for-13 as Italy outscored the Canadians 21-11.
Udom had four made field goals in the third himself, shooting 4-for-6 in the quarter.
After Italy opened the fourth with back-to-back jumpers from Mattia Palumbo, its lead was eight, the largest of the game. A steal and layup from Keeshawn Barthelemy brought Canada within four points with 8:43 remaining, but that’s the closest it got.
Canada will face the U.S. in the semifinals on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT on Sportsnet ONE.
“I think it’s a great format,” Smith said of GLOBL Jam “It’s the first year they’re doing this tournament. We’ve played everyone now. We’ve got to go back, watch the film, make the adjustments that we need to to get the win.”