Trailing at halftime, the Canadian men’s basketball team exploded for 53 second-half points to defeat Germany 80-61 Friday night to improve to 2-0 at the 2019 Summer Universiade.
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The win clinches a spot in the quarter-finals for Canada, which will wrap up the preliminary round of Naples 2019 against Norway Saturday. A win there would lock up top spot in Group D.
Canada struggled offensively in the opening half against a lengthy German squad averaging 6-foot-8, managing just 27 points in the first half. But their defence kept them in it through 20 minutes, and a 33-27 German lead at the half quickly evaporated in the third quarter.
The red-clad Canadians game out gangbusters to start the second half, and a 12-0 run turned the tables to put Canada up by six. Ball movement picked up, and the momentum inside the steamy PalaJacazzi swung to the Canadian side of the ball as they outscored Germany 34-12 in the third quarter. From there, it was cruise control for the 19-point victory.
“The length bothered us offensively, so we talked at halftime about how to space them out, moving the ball so we could get some open shots,” said Canadian head coach Shawn Swords. “It takes time to get used to playing against that size, and our guys reacted well. But our defence helped us – it took a while for the offence to get going, but our defence was steady throughout the game, and our pace was good for 40 minutes.”
“They’re a big, physical team, and we had to adjust to that length,” echoed Calgary guard Mambi Diawara, who helped spark the big third-quarter run. “Once we started to penetrate and kick it out, guys started to get open looks. We got a few buckets to start the third quarter. The offence took a long time to pick up, but once it did we didn’t look back, and things started to go our way.”
In 34 minutes, Diawara picked up 15 points, eight rebounds, and five assists and was the catalyst for much of Canada’s second-half success – including a monster dunk. Munis Tutu of Carleton was the top Canadian scorer for the second time in as many days, finishing with 16 points, while Brody Clarke (12), Ali Sow (11), and Tanner Graham (10) also reached double digits for Canada.
The Germans were led by an 11-point effort by Tim Schneider, with Jan Wimberg chipping in 10.
Canada won the rebounding battle 38-28, and while most stats were roughly equal between the two teams, Canada’s assertiveness in the second half sent them to the free throw line 27 times in the contest and put the Germans in significant foul trouble. Canada finished 19 of 27 from the line, with Germany managing just six of 12.
The preliminary round wraps up Saturday ahead of the quarter-finals, which begin Monday. Canada (2-0) takes on Norway (0-2) Saturday at 11:30 a.m. EDT / 9:30 a.m. PDT (8 p.m. local) in Cercola, Italy.