Basketball

Canada stays undefeated in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Americas Qualifiers 

Even without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Cory Joseph suiting up for Canada’s game against Panama, Canada managed just fine as they dominated Panama, staying undefeated at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Americas Qualifiers by winning 106-50.

Going on a 16-0 run to start the first quarter, Canada jumped to a 33-7 lead after the first frame thanks to a double-digit performance from Kelly Olynyk, who scored 12 points, including nine points from beyond the arc in less than 10 minutes of play.

Zach Edey also had a massive start for Canada, going 3-of-4 in the first half for nine points on top of a gigantic half by Kevin Pangos, who tallied 14 points by the half along with Olynyk.

By halftime, Canada had a 39-point lead over Panama, but the home team was not going down without a fight having their best quarter of the night with 18 points, thanks to Eric Romero James tipping in 10 points by the half.

Canada continued to run away with the lead, with their biggest lead growing to 58 points during the match. Still, the real difference was in Canada’s deep rotation, where every single player scored at least three points in the game, and five players for Canada scored 11 or more points.

Leading 92-36 going into the final 10 minutes of play, Canada dominated not just in scoring but also on the boards, out-rebounding Panama 38-23 defensively as they played large and physical in the paint, which caused Panama to have troubleshooting as they made just 26 percent of their shots in the game. 

Jhivvan Melendez joined James as they both tallied 10 points by the end of the third quarter, and Melendez ended the night with 16 points as Panama’s best shooter, going 5-of-9 from the two-point range on the night.

Both teams tipped in 14 minutes in the final frame. Still, Canada’s dominance in Group E was unable to be matched by Panama despite showings of elite playmaking and scoring from Melendez and Romero, as the bench could not support them.

For Canada, no player tallied more than 24 minutes in the game where their rotation was on full display as Olynyk led the team with 18 points in just 17 minutes, Pangos tipped in 17, Edey finished with 15, and Melvin Ejim added 15 points in 19 minutes.

Dwight Powell had a quiet scoring night and a calm night in general. Playing just 15 minutes tallied 4 points but led Canada on the boards with eight rebounds.

Canada also benefitted from the foul line, making 24 of their 27 shots from the free throw line. Panama held Canada to just 16 of 36 three-point attempts on the night, despite the team shooting 50 percent from the floor as a whole.

On the other hand, Panama made just four of 27 attempted three-pointers yet made 23 fouls on the night, allowing Canada free extra shots to increase their lead.

Trevor Gaskins tipped in 7 points while Josimar Ayarza tallied 5 points and seven assists for Panama to try and help their team stay in the game. Still, the power of the Canadian national team was too much to overcome as only four players scored more than five points for Panama. 

Leading in almost every category except turnovers and fouls, Canada’s biggest key was how they put on a masterclass of playmaking, with Olynyk and Pangos both tallying five assists each with their primary playmakers unable to take the floor for Canada.

Canada remains the only undefeated team in the whole competition, while Panama sits at 2-6 in Group E, above only Bahamas by a single point in the group stage. Canada will face Venezuela next in their November window of play, while Panama will take on the Bahamas.

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