Canada (U23 Women) vs. Louisville Cardinals
(Toronto, ON) With the lights shining bright on Canada vs. USA matchups, the Canadian women fought back in a statement 74-71 win against the Louisville Cardinals.
The game saw the return of Merissah Russell as a member of the Louisville Cardinals. Russell was a member of the 2022 GLOBL JAM Canadian team that won gold and was one of the stand-out players from the inaugural tournament.
“I felt good (to play against Russell), she used to play with us, but now she’s our opponent,” said Shayeann Day-Wilson. “It’s no different. The assignments are the same to win.”
Tara Wallack struck first with a deft cut to the basket, and both teams aggressively attacked the basket early in the shot clock to start the game. Canada would edge an early 25-20 lead with Wallack’s seven points and Day-Wilson’s eight points carrying the offence.
Fans continued filling up the Mattamy Athletic Centre in the second quarter. Louisville dialed up a full-court press looking to stop Canada’s momentum early and slowly drew the game even at 31 points apiece with 3 minutes left in the first half. Olivia Cochran’s size would also become an issue on both ends of the floor toward the end of the first half as Louisville suffocated the Canadian offence, holding them to just ten points in the quarter and taking a 39-35 lead into the half.
Canada began nailing three-point shots again after the half, and they shot 45 per cent from three in the game. Day-Wilson’s effort on both sides of the ball brought Canada back into the game with a mid-range jumper, steal, and an assist sequence that saw Canada take a 51-50 lead into the final quarter of the game.
“I think we came out in the second half and just played together,” said Day-Wilson, who had 14 points, five assists, six steals and five rebounds.
Sarah Te-Biasu had 10 points off the bench in another solid performance, while Phillipina Kyei had nine points and eight rebounds, and Niyah Becker had nine points.
While Canada looked like it would find its way comfortably to the finish line, a small Louisville run and two forced turnovers off aggressive traps in the backcourt from Louisville saw them cut the lead to three points and gain possession of the ball with 12.8 seconds remaining. Jayda Curry missed a highly contested three, and a miscommunication from Louisville saw Canada run out the clock and secure the massive win in the first Canadian game of the night.
CAN vs. USA/Louisville Boxscore click HERE.
Canada (U23 Men’s) vs. Kentucky Wildcats
The most anticipated match up in the short history of GLOBL JAM ended with Kentucky standing tall with a 93-69 victory over the Canadians.
The Mattamy Athletic Center was packed to capacity and officially sold out for the start of the game – but it was a different feel from the normally pro–Canada home crowd, as most fans in attendance traveled with Kentucky to GLOBL JAM.
Tre Mitchell imposed himself defensively on the game early with three massive blocks and two steals, and Canada’s offense began to adjust with midrange shots. Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard and Antonio Reeves hit three three-point shots in a row, forcing a Canadian timeout, and the first “Go big blue” chants rang throughout the arena as Kentucky took a 24-16 lead.
Enoch Boakye slam dunk brought some life back to Canada midway through the second half as the Canadians still looked for ways to deal with Mitchell’s defensive rotations in the paint but were shooting just one-of-seven from three. Kentucky would respond with a dunk of their own from Theiro, and Sheppard would end the quarter with a block and dunk on the other end to put Kentucky up 49-34.
Elijah Mahi led Canada in scoring off the bench with 14 points, while Jahmyl Telfort had 12 points, and Addison Patterson had 11 points and five rebounds.
Kentucky would stamp their tickets to the finals in the third quarter with another explosive showing led by 23 points, four assists, and four steals from Sheppard. Justin Edwards would also contribute to the growing lead with 16 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
CAN vs. USA/Kentucky boxscore click HERE.
Fernandez addresses media between games
It’s all hands on deck for Canada as they announced their star-laden FIBA World Cup training camp roster in between games, including Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and RJ Barrett.
New Canadian head coach Jordi Fernandez addressed the media between games at GLOBL JAM to discuss his new position at Canada Basketball.
“It’s the possibility that this organization has,” said Fernandez. “You see all the talent…What’s being done here is being done at a first class and the excitement and commitment of the players. I always said we were successful in Spain because guys wanted to be there. We didn’t have to ask them to show up. So far my communication with the players has been really good.”
It’s a far cry from the national team that routinely struggled to convince NBA players to participate in summer qualification tournaments. The announcement also sees Murray return to the national team for the first time in a long time. Murray will be donning the red and white jersey coming off of a NBA Championship run with the Denver Nuggets. Fernandez has familiarity with Murray from his six-year stint with the Nuggets as an assistant coach and says Murray will bring competitiveness to the squad.
“Jamal is, if not the best, one of the best competitors that I’ve been around,” said Fernandez. “When the pressure is all the way to the roof, Jamal is going to outperform and out play, and that’s why I love him.”
For Fernandez, he says the draw to Canadian basketball is potential. And the World Cup roster certainly places Canada in a position to realize its potential with the talent available.
“I see a lot of talent, and that excites me, but you guys know, especially in FIBA, what wins is the team. And what wins is if you’re committed to do whatever it takes for the team,” said Fernandez. “If we’re willing to sacrifice, we will be successful…not just this summer, but for a long time.”
Several Canadian SMNT athletes were in the building including RJ Barrett, Shai Gilgeous Alexander, Penny Oleksiak as well as the Superfan Nav Bhatia and Rowan Barrett, who along with Tammy Sutton-Brown and several others, will be inducted into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame in an evening ceremony being held in downtown Toronto on Friday July 14th. Drew Ebanks will be in attendance to support Barrett and his family, as the two have known and played with each other from their high school days.