Canada Beats Brazil in Final Game on Home Soil Before Inaugural FIBA World Cup
Kelly Olynyk Leads the Canadian Roster to 85-77 Victory Over Brazil
With five minutes left in the game, team Canada knew it had gone one step ahead of Brazil on the road to the Inaugural FIBA World Cup in China in 2019.
Team Canada scored 85 points to Brazil’s 77 on Thursday night at Place Bell in Laval in front of 4500 fans. It was their first time ever playing in the province for a qualifying game of World Cup.
Canada’s big man and the Miami Heat’s player Kelly Olynyk was the game-high, scoring a total of 20 points and 18 rebounds.
“There’s something about coming home, to be able to wear red and white across your chest. It brings something else out of you.” Olynyk told the Link.
Olynyk wasn’t the only one that put on a show of double digit scoring for the fans on the court. His teammate and NBA colleague Corey Joseph scored 16 points and ten assists.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Tristan Thompson seized twelve rebounds and ten assists during Thursday’s game.
Thompson said he was also honoured to be playing on home soil alongside his NBA allies and overseas players like Melvin Ejim of Basketball Club UNICS and FC Barcelona’s Kevin Pangos.
“[He] plays with a lot of talent,” said Joseph about his Pangos.
“We came like gangbusters, that’s what you got to do,” said Thompson as he exited the mixed zone.
Brazil’s team was also packed with notable players like Phoenix Suns Leandro Barbosa, who grabbed 18 points for the green and yellow.
Los Angeles Lakers’ Marcelino Huertas also scored a total of 14 points and 12 assists for Brazil, joining forces with his colleague and former Golden State Warriors player Andres Varejão, who scored ten points.“It was a great game. Canada did a great job,” said Barbosa.
With this victory, team Canada is now up 6-1 and sitting at the top of Group F with contender Venezuela who also stand at 6-1 while Brazil drops to 5-2.
The red and white roster is now headed to Valdivia, Chile on a 24 hour trip for a game against the ‘Chilenos’.
What will be different is that all of the NBA players on the team will not be on the trip to Chile due to training camp commitments with their NBA teams.
The lack of NBA players in the roster on the road to Chile is a cause for concern because the team will be somewhat less experienced.Despite this, the players are not losing sleep over it.
“The guys that are going to Chile have to step it up,” said Pangos who will not be joining the squad on its trip to South America.
This is also an opportunity for the Brazilian team to catch up in the standings. Head coach Aleksander Petrović is fully aware of that opportunity ahead of his team facing Canada again on Brazilian soil on December 3 after they finish two important games against Chile and Venezuela.
NBA Gatorade League’s Aaron Best, who also happens to be a former U Sports player with the Ryerson Rams, was another important factor in the game.Aside from the fact that he scored twelve points that night, he earned the trust of teammates from the highest calibre of basketball during training camp and on the court.
Aaron Best grew up in the Canadian sports system and performed at a high level in the game.
‘I get pretty emotional because I’ve known him since he was in the 10th grade,” coach Rana said. “‘To see who he’s become. Here’s a guy that came up in the Canadian university system, playing major minutes, big moments and making big plays.”
Canada will be facing Chile on Sept. 17.