Canada beats USA, goes 5-0 in pool play


Michel Belanger

July 12, 2013, KAZAN, Russia (Team Canada) (ISN) – The Canadian men’s basketball team defeated the United States 94-85 on Friday afternoon at the Summer Universiade to qualify for the quarter-finals of the biennial 24-team tournament for the 19th time in 21 all-time appearances.

With the win, Canada finishes first in Pool C with a perfect 5-0 record. Australia (4-1) took second place and also advances to the quarters, while Team USA (3-2) is relegated to the consolation side of the draw.

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The Canadians will now face Brazil Sunday at 6 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET), needed three more wins to capture the second FISU title in program history, 30 years after a memorable triumph in Edmonton. Over the years, the country has won nine Universiade medals in men’s hoops, including silver two years ago in Shenzhen, China.

Brady Heslip of Bulrington, Ont., paced a balanced Canadian offence with 20 points, including 12 from beyond the arc. The Baylor University guard was leading the red and white in scoring for the fourth time in five games.

Ten Canadian players saw between 17 and 21 minutes of action, with seven of them scoring at least eight points.

Three-point shooting was a weapon for both sides. American guard Luke Hancock was nearly perfect from long distance, shooting 5-for-6 en route to a game-high 27. Overall, the USA sank 15 of their 32 attempts and remained within striking distance until the final minutes.

“They’re a tough team to guard,” said Canadian head coach Jay Triano, who won FISU gold as a player in 1983. “We had to make a decision, they’re going to exploit you one way or the other because he’s a good coach and they run good plays.”

Canada’s depth and five-man substitution strategy proved pivotal again, clearly providing the energy edge in the second half. The speedy line-up of Melvin Ejim of Brampton, Ont. (Iowa State), Daniel Mullings of Toronto (New Mexico State) and Dwight Powell, also of Toronto (Stanford), was effective in the closing five minutes when the USA tried to mount a comeback.

“When you put us all in the line-up together there are a lot of mismatches, it’s really fun to play with those guys,” said Ejim, who tied for a team-high seven rebounds and had a memorable two-handed breakaway dunk. “It’s been a great opportunity to play with them and bring that spark to the games.”

An inside basket from Calgary native Jordan Bachynski (Arizona State) at the end of the first quarter gave Canada their first lead of the game at 18-17.

The Americans tried to bring full court pressure at the start of the second frame, but the composed Canadian squad had no difficulties and quickly bucketed back-to-back layups. That kick-started a 10-0 scoring run which ended with a three-pointer from Richmond, B.C. native Thomas Scrubb (Carleton), and Canada held a 46-36 halftime lead.

The game ended on a strange note when the arena lights and scoreboard went out with 10 seconds remaining. After a five minute delay, the teams decided to dribble out the clock in the semi-darkness.

The win was Canada’s fourth of the summer over the United States on the development national team’s circuit, after going a perfect 3-for-3 against their North American rivals last month in China.