With the doors shutting on another year of GLOBL JAM basketball, there’s little doubt that this year’s edition successfully built upon the formula laid out in 2022. While Baylor and Virginia Commonwealth University were fun parts of the tournament and allowed access to Canadian players and a front-row seat to see future NBA draft picks, Kentucky and Louisville brought the tournament to the next level with their traveling fans.
The final day of GLOBL JAM was the best example of that success so far, with both gold medal games being played in front of a packed house in the Mattamy Athletic Centre, and being discussed across North America on social media platforms due to the high profile inclusions of Louisville and Kentucky.
Canada Basketball has set the bar high, even when falling just short of gold medals. GLOBL JAM is set to become a summer destination for years to come.
Canada (U23 Women) vs. Louisville Cardinals
The final women’s game of the tournament lived up to the hype and will go down as one of the best GLOBL JAM games ever, as Louisville took down Canada 68-66 in a dramatic finish.
Neither team could find significant runs to separate themselves, with Canada and Louisville trading leads for most of the game. Keishana Washington led all scorers with a blistering 25 points and four rebounds. Louisville responded with a tandem attack of Sydney Taylor, who had 15 points and four assists, and Olivia Cochran, who had 14 points and six rebounds.
In the game’s final moments, Shayeann Day-Wilson sprung to life and traded buckets with Cochran, but it was a three-point bomb from Taylor with 29.4 that would prove to be the difference maker and give Louisville the lead. Day-Wilson had the ball in her hands twice more to end the game, but a fading three-point shot rimmed out, and with it went Canada’s hopes of back-to-back gold medals.
“Down the stretch, we just had to lock in and play defence,” said Washington. “We had a couple of miscommunications…it’s just unfortunate, but overall, I think we played great, and it was a great game for the crowd.”
Despite being unable to repeat, the GLOBL JAM experience garnered almost universal praise from the players and coaching staff for providing otherwise unobtainable experiences for players and coaches.
“This event has meant the world to me,” said Canadian head coach Christa Eniojukan. “I’ve been involved with the national team now for 15 years behind the scenes in terms of development, so now to have the opportunity to lead is obviously very special.
For Washington, GLOBL JAM has been the feather in the cap of a long career at Drexel University. Despite averaging 27.7 points a game in her final season, which made her the third-leading scorer in the NCAA, Washington flew under the radar for most Canadian fans. GLOBL JAM provided Washington with a platform to showcase her skills on home court while wearing Canadian colours, but it also allowed her the rare opportunity to play in front of her family and friends.
“The last five years I’ve been in Philadelphia. My parents have been out to see me maybe once a year in my time over there,” said Washington. “It’s been great to play in front of friends, family, supporters, fans. It’s just been an overall great experience.”
CAN vs. Louisville (USA) boxscore click HERE.
Canada (U23 Men) vs. Kentucky Wildcats
The Canadian men improved upon last year’s third-place finish but fell 89-72 to a heavily stacked Kentucky Wildcats squad that finished the tournament undefeated (4-0).
The game may have felt like deja vu for those who watched the first matchup between the two teams earlier in the week. Canada was able to keep pace with the Wildcats through Addison Patterson’s 20 points, but after the half, Kentucky pulled away with a 14-1 run that saw them take control of the game heading into the fourth quarter.
“I was just focused on the win; anyway I could help, and it ended up being buckets tonight,” said Patterson. “We were all just trying to get the win. We fell short, but I’m proud of everybody.”
Kentucky was led by their squadron of future NBA draft picks. Justin Edwards rounded into form after a slow start to the tournament and scored 23 points while grabbing seven rebounds and blocking two shots. Tre Mitchell was a problem physically for Canada once again, with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. Tournament MVP Antonio Reeves scored 18 points, and DJ Wanger scored 13 points and six assists.
The Canadian men came into the tournament with questions surrounding their lack of top-level NBA draft talent such as Olivier-Maxence Prosper(selected but did not play) and Leonard Miller from the 2022 edition, but still found their way to improve their standing from a year before – and head coach Nathanial Mitchell credited the team’s ability to play together after the game.
“I played all 12 guys during this tournament. A couple of games, I played 11 guys deep, and not a lot of coaches do that,” said Mitchell. “There were opportunities for us to use everybody’s skill…there wasn’t a huge separation (of talent). Every time I subbed, I felt like I could get the same thing from somebody else, so it was fun.”
For Patterson, it allowed him the chance to grow into a role he didn’t have during the 2022 edition of GLOBL JAM.
“I was a part of (GLOBL JAM) last year, but I had not as big of a role on the team,” said Patterson. “It was a great experience last year, but this year it was amazing, and even better getting to give a bit more on the court.”
The matchups with the likes of Germany and Kentucky provided a new, arguably tougher challenge than last year, and Patterson says he will use his experience in GLOBL JAM to continue growing beyond the event.
“Any time you’re playing great, high-level basketball, if you’re not taking something away from it, you’re doing yourself a disservice,” said Patterson. “I’m definitely going to sleep on it and think about all the players I’ve guarded and felt guarding me and use that to get better.”
CAN vs. Kentucky (USA) boxscore click HERE.
Photo courtesy Fifis Visuals