Canada settles for 4th place at U17 Worlds


Puerto Rico 90, Canada 77… The Puerto Ricans pulled away in the second half showing more energy and scrap to relegate Canada to a fourth-place finish at the FIBA U17 World championships in Argentina.  Canada allowed their opponents to shoot 30 for 50 from inside the arc and 48% overall, getting beat in transition and generally not guarding the ball very well.

Canada allowed 210 points in the final two most important games of the tournament allowing PR and USA to shoot a combined 71-118 (60%) from inside the arc and Canada allowed 52 offensive rebounds in the final three games of the tournament.

6’6″ Addison Patterson had a Canadian-tournament-high 31 points on 12-21 shooting from the floor and added 7 rebounds but turned it over 5 times, part of 21 turnover game for Canada.  6’3″ Cashius McNeilly added 17 for Canada, going 3-7 from downtown while 6’7″ Ben Krikke added 14 points on 4-6 from the field.  Canada shot 7-23 from beyond the arc including 6’4″ Luka Sakota‘s 2-2.

Canada’s point guard tandem of 5’11” Shemar Rathan-Mayes and 6’1″ Keeshawn Barthelemy combined to go 1-10 from the floor including 1-8 from three for 4 points.  Both Patterson and Rathan-Mayes fouled out of the game.

Canada finishes the tournament at 4-2.

Next international action for Canadian men is in September when round two of the World Cup 2019 qualifying round begins as Canada hosts Brazil in Montreal.

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Shadkami stars as Blues capture Bronze in Taiwan


Toronto 94, Chien Hsin Tech 89... Before another overflow crowd of better than 5,000, 6’0″ Evan Shadkami had 28 points and clinched the game late with 4 clutch free throws as U of T captured the Bronze medal in Taiwan.  CHU is the second local team in the tournament out of Taoyuan City, Taiwan.

Blues also got a break-out game from 6’3″ freshman Inaki Alvarez who had 17 points and 5 assists in 21 minutes, helping run Blues efficient offense.  Toronto played a strong road game, shooting 83% from the free throw line and turning it over just 7 times the entire game.

6’3″ Nic Paradina added 18 points on a very tidy 8-12 shooting from the floor including a pair of threes, 6 rebounds and 4 assists for the Blues in a tight game that Blues led by 5 at the half.  6’8″ Daniel Johanssen had 12 points and 3 boards in 28 minutes.

Shadkami added 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals while going 6 for 16 from downtown and was named a tournament all-star.

Blues now return home to get set to face Duke Blue Devils in about four weeks.

USA pulls away in 3rd quarter to defeat Canada in World U17 semi-final


USA 120, Canada 71… The Americans blew open what was a tie game late in the second quarter, finishing the first half on a 17-5 run to lead by 12 at the intermission and then turned up the defensive pressure to hold Canada to just 29 second half points in what turned into a route.

Canada had it to 13 at 66-53 with about 4 minutes left in the third however USA turned up the defensive pressure, creating 7 Canadian turnovers in the key four minute stretch as the Americans finished the third quarter on a 17-2 run and then scored the first 7 points of the fourth to seal it, leading by 35.

Canada got out the gates strong, making 5 of their first 7 shots from downtown and saw 6’6″ Addison Patterson generally have his way off the dribble (12 first-half points) and led 28-20 late in the first quarter.  But the USA started to get their transition game going, attacking the rim to finish or to draw fouls.  Later the Americans turned up the full court pressure, creating numerous turnovers (Canada had 33 turnovers on the night) and easy scores to pull away in the second half.

Patterson finished with 15 points to lead Canada while 5’11” Shemar Rathan-Mayes and 6’9″ Charles Bediako each added 9 in the loss.  6’4″ Jalen Green, the #1 rated player in the Class of 2020 from Fresno, CA led all scorers with 24 points, one of 7 different Americans who hit double figures.  Canada tried to pack it in against the American shooters and that particular ploy was effective (USA shot just 5-22 from three) but the turnovers, 25 USA offensive rebounds, easy transition and relentless pressure propelled USA to tomorrow’s Gold medal game against France.

Canada will look to medal in the third-place/Bronze medal game tomorrow against Puerto Rico.

Blues drop semi-final to NCAA D2 Azusa Pacific in Taiwan


Azusa Pacific 86, Toronto 66… Facing a long, athletic and hot-shooting team from California, U of T suffered their first loss in Taiwan, falling behind by 20 in the third quarter, dropping their championship semi-final game.  Toronto was dominated on the glass 50-29 and turned it over 18 times to drop to 3-1 overall on their trip.

The Cougars, an NCAA Division II squad out of the Pacific West conference and a perennial post-season national tournament participant, employed 40 minutes of zone “d” and at least initially Blues prolific 6’0″ Evan Shadkami took full advantage with 15 of his team-high 18 points in the first quarter alone.  Shadkami finished 5-9 from three in 28 minutes but the rest of the Blues shot only a collective 4-18 from downtown and Toronto gave up 18 “o” boards.  Azusa Pacific meanwhile shot a tidy 13-32 (41%) from beyond the arc to lead by 10 at the half and pulled away shortly after halftime.

A pair of Toronto freshmen, 6’5″ Eli Mouyal (7 points in 11 minutes) and 6’3″ Jeremy Aibi (4 points, 5 rebounds in 17 minutes) made their first significant Varsity contributions.

We will have more on Toronto’s trip in the coming days.

Canada outlasts Aussies to gain FIBA U17 Worlds semi-final spot


Canada 74, Australia 70… 6’7″ Ben Krikke‘s clutch put-back tip-in with just 30 seconds remaining and at the tail end of a Canadian possession was the key bucket as our U17’s outlasted a scrappy Australian side to advance to tomorrow’s FIBA U17 World Cup semi-final against the winner of tonight’s USA vs. Croatia quarter-final match in Argentina.  The “o” board was only the third of the entire game for Canada, which gave up 16 “o” boards to their opponents.

Here is a quick highlight package from today’s game

The game was close throughout with Canada holding leads as many as 5 and 7 at various points but unable to break away until 6’6″ Addison Patterson capped a 13-5 run to give Canada an 8 point lead with just 1:48 to play with a three-pointer, capping a string of 7 consecutive points by the emerging star and Canada looked to be set.  But a turnover and missed shot got Australia back to within two with just less than a minute to play and Canada worked the shot clock down, getting off a shot that was rebounded by Krikke (6 points, 3 rebounds), who was limited to just 17 minutes today amid foul trouble (2 first-half fouls), who made no mistake to stretch the lead back to 4 rescuing Canada.  Canada then clinched the game on the foul line.

Canada led by 5 going into the fourth but was held scoreless for the first 3 minutes of the final frame, allowing Australia to creep back into it but 6’3″ Cashius McNeilly (11 points/3-7 threes; part of a tough 5-20 effort by Canada from downtown) knocked in a three and followed up with a lay-up and Canada’s lead was restored.  Later the game was tied at 55 with 5 minutes remaining before a steal by 6’0″ Keeshawn Barthelemy (10 points, 5 assists) set up 6’7″ Josh Hemmings (8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) for a lay-up, starting what turned out to be the game-deciding run, highlighted by Patterson (team-high 18 points) that gave Canada a 68-60 lead with under two minutes to play.

The game marked Canada first real test of the tournament and getting through this will be an added advantage for what promises to be another tough test in the championship semi-finals tomorrow.  Canada turned it over 19 times today and forced only 16 turnovers, well below the rate at which Canada turned over other opponents in the first four games.

Blues rally late to defeat home Taiwan side; tournament semi-finals next


Toronto 89, National Taiwan Sport University 87… 6’0″ Evan Shadkami knocked down a pair of clutch threes in the final minute and a half, allowing the Blues to rally from down 4 with just over a minute to play – also surviving a missed wide-open three at the buzzer – for a character win in front of 4,000+ partisan fans in Taiwan.

The game went back and forth all night with the Blues trailing by 5 entering the fourth and down 4 with 1:30 left when Shadkami (21 points, 4-11 threes) gave the Blues the lead.  6’3″ Nic Paradina added 16 points for Toronto while burly 6’6″ Nick Morris had 14 points and 9 rebounds.

6’4″ third-year wing Dillon Rejman (Chicago, IL), who in his first two seasons generally saw limited floor time, has stepped up the entire tournament with strong minutes, having arguably the most productive game of his Varsity career vs. Taiwan with an 11-point/10-rebound double-double.

Toronto dominated on the glass, grabbing 24 offensive rebounds and enjoying a 50-30 rebounding edge overall.  6’8″ Daniel Johansson had 7 points and 9 rebounds while touted 6’3″ freshman Inaki Alvarez added 5 points in 13 minutes.

The game was tidy with teams combining for just 21 turnovers and the Blues coming back late to claim first place in their preliminary round group.

The tournament continues tomorrow at 3:15 AM Eastern time with the semi-finals.

Canada dominates Philippines, prepares for Australia in quarters on Friday


Canada 102, Philippines 62… Holding the Philippines without a field goal for the first 12 minutes of the game, Canada put on a dominant defensive performance in advancing to the quarter-finals of the FIBA U17 World Cup 2018 in Argentina.  Canada had 8 offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone to establish a 19 point lead and was off and running, growing the lead to 30+ and leading by 25 at the half using their entire bench.  Later Canada closed the game on a big run to win by 40.

It may have been worse had referees not whistled the Canadians for 7 fouls in the first quarter alone.  Philippines tried to slow Canada with a zone defense early in the second but 6’6″ Addison Patterson knocked down a three from the left wing and 5’11” Shemar Rathan-Mayes diced into the zone to find 6’7″ Ben Krikke (9 of his 13 points in the first half) for easy lay-ups and the route was on.

6’7″ Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe led the way with 22 points and 11 rebounds while 6’4″ Luka Sakota added 11 as Canada shot 10-25 (40%) from three.

Philippines were generally out classed especially at the guard and wing spots, unable to deal with constant Canadian ball pressure and wing denials however 7’2″ long-armed lefty Kai Sotto appears to have a very bright future, flashing a mature, versatile offensive game.  Sotto, who just turned 16 (born 2002 and playing underage at this tournament) is already garnering references as the next Yao Ming. While those comparisons may be a bit stretched at present – the youngster remains relatively thin and not yet a factor protecting the rim – Sotto does run the floor well, looks to seal and make contact in and around the paint and showed off some decent offensive skills, making a string of tough-to-stop turnarounds, was a willing and able passer when doubles came hard and even stepped out blew past a Canadian post defender from 15 feet and hammered it home one-handed.  Sotto (16 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks) also has nice form on his free throws.  With natural physical growth and game maturation/experience, Sotto looks like a legitimate international offensive talent as multi-skilled forward/center.

Canada will now face Australia, 74-65 winners over Mali in another round-of-16 matchup on Friday (tomorrow is an off-day).  Game time has not been determined as of yet.  While Canada did edge the Aussies in a pre-tournament game last week, Australia has had their fair share of tough games already in the tournament – today’s game against Mali was a one-point game with 4 minutes to go and a three point game with one minute left.  As well, all three of Australia’s preliminary round matches were two-point games:  wins against Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and a two-point loss to Turkey.

Shadkami leads Blues to second win in Taiwan


U of T Varsity Blues 74, University of New South Wales (Australia) 62…  6’0″ Evan Shadkami had 16 of his game-high 27 points in the decisive third quarter, combining with 5’9″ Chris Barrett to go 11-19 from three point land as the Blues moved to 2-0 on their Taiwan trip.

With the score tied at halftime, the Blues rode some hot three-point shooting to bust out to a double digit lead before cruising in the fourth for the victory.  Barrett finished with 12 points, 7 assists and 5 steals, going 4-6 from downtown while Shadkami made 7 of 13 threes in another strong shooting performance from the rising sophomore guard from Toronto’s Central Tech.  Toronto also forced 23 turnovers in the game.

Blues now face host National Taiwan Sport University tomorrow in their third game.

Canada starts U17 championship round vs. Philippines today at 3 PM ET


Canada dominated their preliminary group, winning Group C at 3-0 with an average score of 94-60 after dominating New Zealand yesterday.  The U17’s under Kirby Schepp now begin the Round of 16 against winless Philippines in Rosario, site of all of Canada’s prior games.

Philippines (0-3 in Group B) lost 97-75 to Croatia, 95-54 to France and were edged 74-71 in their final preliminary round game against host Argentina.

A win for Canada today moves our guys into the quarter-final round on Friday against the winner of Australia and Mali.  Australia finished in a three-way tie atop Group A at 2-1 but finished second in the tie-breaker.  Mali finished 1-2 in Group B, losing to the USA and Serbia while defeating China.

Today’s game is available for live viewing on FIBA YouTube channel

Workmanlike effort propels Canada to Group D championship


Canada 99, U.S. Virgin Islands 69… Wearing down the opponents with their depth, Canada got a balanced scoring effort from several sources in a dominant win over U.S. V.I.  Both teams will advance to the next qualifying stage after Canada pulled away midway through the second quarter and then used their entire bench liberally to gain leads of 30+ in the fourth.  The game was played at TD Place at Lansdowne in Ottawa before an estimated 5,000 fans in a nice venue that sets up well for basketball events including the 2020? U Sports Final 8.

7’0″ Kelly Olynyk led five Canadians in double figures with 14 points on a perfect 4-4 inside the arc, showing off his virtually-effortless mid-range game and capping his performance with a spectacular, difficult one-handed ally-oop slam dunk in the third quarter.  Carleton grad 6’3″ Phil Scrubb, fresh off an invitation to the Washington Wizards NBA Las Vegas summer league invite, added 14 including a pair of open threes as Canada went 9-29 (31%) in an admittedly lackluster effort from downtown given the number of wide open 3’s afforded by the U.S. Virgin Islands “d”.

6’6″ Dillon Brooks made both his 3’s and was a factor especially in defensive transition with several deflections that led to turnovers and easy Canadian scores – Brooks continues to play hard no matter what the situation or the outcome of the previous play.  6’7″ phenom R.J. Barrett was again magnificent in transition with at least two text-book Euro-step finishes as the rising Duke freshman displayed his mature offensive game.

Barrett’s new Blue Devils squad out of the ACC will, by several accounts of fans in Ottawa this afternoon who approached me directly to channel their frustrations, “duck” our Nation’s Capital on their August tour of Canada.

Captain Canada 6’3″ Cory Joseph (11 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) flashes his slick handle on a couple of occasions with a spinning attack at the rim and several no-look passes that led to lay-ups or dunks while steady 6’10” Dwight Powell is a wonderful complement in and around the paint to Olynyk’s high-end perimeter skills.

Rising NCAA Division 1 freshman Andrew Nembhard saw considerable action – he was part of the first group off the bench for Canada – and, after air-balling his first three from the right corner, quickly showed why many consider the Vaughan S.S. grad as Canada’s point guard of the future with 6 assists, generally getting to where he wanted on the floor and making strong decisions.

Defensively, Canada was generally sound with the opponents making several high-degree-of-difficulty shots early to keep it close through the early stages of the second quarter.  U.S. Virgin Islands looked to initially isolate Barrett, who held up reasonably well on the defensive end guarding the ball however Canada’s strong rotations and rim protection forced several late-shot-clock looks and time-clock violations in the win.

Looking ahead to the second round of qualifying, Canada will be designated as team D1 in Group F and will play three home-and-home series against the top three teams from Group B which, pending tonight’s results, appear to be – assuming Venezuela defeats Chile tonight – B1 Venezuela (which I believe own the tie-breaker vs. Brazil), B2 Brazil and B3 Chile.

If that is the case, Canada’s second round schedule is as follows:

Thursday, September 13th, 2018:  Brazil at Canada (game rumored to be in Montreal)

Sunday, September 16th, 2018:  Canada at Chile

Friday, November 30th, 2018:  Canada at Venezuela

Monday, December 3rd, 2018:  Canada at Brazil

Thursday, February 21st, 2018:  Chile at Canada

Sunday, February 24th, 2018:  Venezuela at Canada.

This schedule will be officially confirmed tonight after Venezuela (4-1 in Group B) plays at Chile (8:30 PM ET) and Brazil (4-1) at Columbia (1-4) playing now.  A Venezuela victory over 1-4 Chile would propel Venny to top spot (assuming I understand the tie-breaker correctly) while Chile (making same assumption on tie-breaker) would finish third.