FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament: Canada’s 3-point play-off sets up dominant group stage victory over China

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FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament: Canada’s 3-point play-off sets up dominant group stage victory over China


Score two wins in as many days for the Canadian senior men’s national team, which claimed a 109-79 victory over China on Wednesday night.

For the second game in a row, Andrew Wiggins led the way for Canada, this time finishing with 20 points on a 5v9 shot from the field and a perfect 7v7 from the free throw line. Wiggins was one of seven Canadians to finish in double digits, with RJ Barrett scoring 16 points, Andrew Nicholson adding 14, Dwight Powell scoring 12 and three more adding 11 on the evening.

To learn more about how it happened, here are some takeaways from the buzzer …

1. Two away wins

After the win, Canada is focused on the semi-finals, where only four teams will stay and it’s win or come home.

The margin for error becomes much slimmer, with only two victories separating Canada from its first Olympic place since 2000.

2. Even five

Head coach Nick Nurse clearly saw something he liked in the opener against Greece, as he rode with the same starting unit against China.

Along with Wiggins, Barrett and Powell, Cory Joseph and Trey Lyles were once again part of the original unit.

As the stakes rise, it’s heartening to know that Nurse has found a five he’s comfortable starting games with. Whether or not he will continue with this training remains to be seen, but consistency is a good sign.

3. Methodical domination

It was not a trickle-down victory and China made life difficult at times, but Canada methodically asserted its dominance and drifted away over time.

As the most talented group, Canada was able to make more plays and make China uncomfortable at times to force turnovers that both limited China’s opportunities and, of course, provided Canada with more scoring opportunities.

As this Canadian team continues to learn how to play with each other, getting wins like this is a very important step.

4. Infringement of equal opportunities

Everyone has had their fair share of opportunities on the attacking side, with a number of encouraging stats.

Let’s start with the movement of the ball itself.

Led by seven assists from Cory Joseph, Canada collected 30 of its 36 field goals, a whopping 83.3 percent. Among those unassisted field goals was an impressive Luguentz Dort dunk, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

After Joseph, Barrett and Nickeil Alexander-Walker also flexed their playmaker muscles with five assists each, making way for so many players on the board.

Now it’s time to score.

As mentioned above, seven players finished with 11 or more points, with Alexander-Walker, Dort and Lyles being the aforementioned trio of 11-point scorers. This team has a number of talented goal scorers, capable of ramping up offensively, which should scare the opponents.

5. Canada starts very early

It’s amazing how the 3 ball can open a game.

Canada started over the arc early, shooting 11 for 24 from distance in the first half alone. As CBC so eloquently stated in their halftime tweet, it was almost like a 3 point giveaway for Team Canada.

Canada ended the night shooting 17 for 43 deep, with Alexander-Walker, Barrett, Dort and Wiggins each knocking down three trebles.

6. Second chance

You dominate the glass, you create more opportunities. This was the case for Canada on Wednesday evening.

Not only did Canada overtake China 55-37 on the night, but it also dominated on the offensive glass, registering a total of 20 offensive rebounds. These 20 offensive boards? Well they resulted in 30 seconds of luck points including a strong Dort dunk.

A reminder that it is not always necessary to have the advantage of size to win on the boards.

7. What’s the next step?

After playing two consecutive days, Canada will be given two well-deserved days off before the semi-finals, which begin on Sunday, July 3.

With Canada still waiting for their opponent, get stuck on NBA.com for more information on the next round, and we’ll catch up with you then.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the NBA or its clubs.

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