June 30th, 2021. Victoria, BC (ISN) – The Canadian Men’s National Basketball team took a giant step forward towards a berth in the Tokyo Olympics with a lopsided 109-79 win over China in game two FIBA Olympic Qualifying action Wednesday evening at Save On Foods Arena in Victoria, BC.
With the win, Canada enters the semi finals July 3rd against either Uruguay or the Czech Republic, both who both suffered first round loses. Canada is ranked 21st in the world entering the qualifying tournament.
Canada’s Andrew Wiggins ( also of the Golden State Warriors ) would lead all Canadian scorers with 20 points, and New York Knicks star RJ Barrett would add 18 points in the win over a Chinese squad that historically fields a competitive team in international competition. Currently ranked 29th in the world, China has medaled in every FIBA Asian Cup eighteen times dating back to 1975. China’s Jie Xu would lead all scorers in the game with 24 points in their first-round losing effort Wednesday evening.
China would keep pace with Canada early, only down by eight points at the end of the first quarter but Canada would never look back from the that point. Andrew Nicholson would be the difference in the first quarter, scoring the last five points of the opening frame to give Canada the eight-point lead.
Canada would continue the offensive pressure posting subsequent quarter time leads of 13, 24, and 30 points respectively to pull away with the win. Canada’s Dwight Powell would be a force on the glass with five of Canada’s 20 offensive rebounds. Canada’s 30 second chance points to China’s five points would be the difference in the game despite China’s height advantage which includes the tallest player in the tournament in Chaunxing Liu, listed at a towering 7’5” tall.
Post-game, Canada Head Coach Nick Nurse seemed happy but reserved in his team’s well-rounded win against China. “Tough (win) on a back-to-back. I thought China came out like we expected, running, playing hard, and running lots of defenses but we hung in there early and opened up a lead. I think we challenged their shooters often enough and limited them to once shot often enough, and our offense was pretty good tonight. It was good for our guys to see a lot of zone (defense) tonight and it was good to see that. I think our guys handled it pretty well tonight.”
Starting this weekend fans will be permitted to attend games at Save-On Foods Arena, and there is no doubt that Canadian fans will be very enthusiastic in their support for their 2-0 Canadian team as Coach Nurse is well aware of after his Toronto Raptors NBA Championship win in 2019. “Canadian fans are some of the best. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing their voices in the Arena.”
Canada takes the court Saturday in game one semi-final. Game time is scheduled for 13:05pm at Save-On Arena.