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Canada fails to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Canada’s senior men’s basketball team suffered another heartbreaking loss in FIBA Olympic qualifying play, this time to the Czech Republic in the tournament semi-final. Canada will not be taking part in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

Canada will not be represented in men’s basketball at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. The team was eliminated by the Czech Republic on Saturday afternoon at one of FIBA’s Olympic qualifying tournaments, in Victoria, BC. The Canadians and Czechs found themselves matched up against one another in the six-team tournament’s semi-final, in a competition where only one team will be allowed to advance to the Olympics.

Canada fell by a score of 103-101 in overtime, in a game that they never led until the extra frame. The Czechs led by as many as 13 points, and led by ten with just 57 seconds remaining. However, an unbelievable last-minute comeback effort, fuelled by Andrew Wiggins, allowed Canada to force overtime. Down six with 22 seconds left, Wiggins converted on a transition layup, plus the foul, before Nickeil Alexander-Walker stole the Czech’s inbound pass, getting it back to Wiggins who nailed a deep, contested, game-tying three to get the game to overtime. Canada quickly built a five-point lead in the extra frame with an Alexander-Walker three and an RJ Barrett Layup. Czech Republic took a two-point lead with a 7-0 response, followed by a short jumper by Wiggins that tied the game at 101 with just under 16 seconds left. That’s when Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky banked in a tough turn-around mid-range shot to put the Czechs back up by two with 1.8 seconds left in overtime. A beautifully drawn up inbounds play by head coach Nick Nurse allowed for Canada’s Trey Lyles to get off a clean look to tie the game, but Lyles’ shot rattled in and out of the basket, sending Czech Republic to the tournament final.

Canada fell short in two key areas in this one: rebounding and three-point shooting. Czech Republic’s size got the better of a much-smaller Canada team, winning the rebound battle 52-39. Canada converted on just nine of their thirty-seven three-point attempts (24.3%) while the Czechs dropped thirteen on only twenty-eight attempts (46.4%). Canada was able to make up some ground in the turnover battle, forcing the Czechs to give up the ball 19 times while only committing eight turnovers of their own. Ultimately, Czech Republic’s size and shooting proved to be more valuable as the club pulled out a nail-biting victory.

The Czechs were led by forward Blake Schilb who dropped 31 points on 19 shots, including seven threes. He also added 3 rebounds and 7 assists in 42 minutes of action. OT hero Satoransky finished with 18 to go with 7 rebounds and 5 assists, while seven-footer Ondrej Balvin grabbed 19 rebounds in addition to his 14 points. Barrett scored a team-high 23 points for Canada, followed by Wiggins who dropped 22 and Alexander-Walker with 21.

The loss marks Canada’s fifth-straight unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the Olympics in men’s basketball. The club lost a 79-78 heartbreaker to Venezuala in 2016; a game that would have sent them to the 2016 Rio Olympics had they won. 

Czech Republic will face the winner of Turkey and Greece in tomorrow’s tournament final, for a chance to qualify for the upcoming summer Olympics.