With the FIBA World Cup looming just around the corner, a week and change away, we see many national teams ramp up their preparations with friendly games and tournaments.
In one recent game, the Canadian National Team stunned the New Zealand Tall Blacks with a 122-88 blow out win. While it was a just a pre-World Cup tuneup game, the overwhelming nature with which the white shirts were able to dispatch with their opponents must have at least sent a chilling message.
The victory provides Canada with some much-needed momentum as well as a good shot of morale in the arm. One by one, players have been begging off FIBA World Cup participation.
This was a big boost for them as Aaron Best provided the critical scoring punch with 20 points for the Canadian squad. Teammate Andrew Nembhard chipped in 17 points to help power them to victory.
It wasn’t a two-man show for the winners as four other Canadian players got in on the action, scoring in double figures. Oshae Brissett added 16 points and seven rebounds, while Owen Klassen and Kevin Pangos posted 12 and 10 points, respectively.
This is the right approach for a team that will be leaning heavily on teamwork, given how many of their top professional players out of commission.
“Coach preaches every day, making the right passes, playing as a team,” Nembhard said. “We’re working on us every day out here. We’re trying to get better every day and improve on what we did the day before.”
Canada jumped to a huge lead right after the opening whistle, surging with a 10-0 run and capping off the first quarter with an impressive 35-17 lead. The second quarter saw them bring more of the momentum as they snowballed their advantage. As both teams headed to the locker room for the halftime break, Canada expanded their lead to 61-37.
New Zealand gave it a go, but being on the back foot from the beginning made it difficult for them to find their bearings and get those key defensive stops. Tai Webster led the Tall Blacks with 19 points.
The Tall Blacks now have to re-assess their game plan and study how they can make in-game adjustments when their opponents get off to a hot start.