Canada is enjoying an impressive and historic start at the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
The club remains undefeated at 3-0, punctuated by Tuesday's 101-75 victory over Latvia to finish atop Group H. The team started a little sluggish in that contest, trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half before taking a one-point lead at halftime.
Toronto-born Shai Gilgeous-Alexander took over after the break, scoring 16 of his game-high 27 points in the third quarter, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker contributed 14 points off the bench, including four 3-pointers.
Following the game, Canada head coach Jordi Fernandez unironically channeled national music icon Alanis Morissette to help describe the team’s turnaround over Latvia, and specifically Alexander-Walker's contributions.
"There's a song that says there's 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife. Do you guys know who sings that song? Alanis Morissette, a Canadian," Fernandez told reporters.
"We were not defending, we were not doing the right things. I think Nickeil was that knife. He came in and played really hard, defended when he was open, he made all those threes."
Tuesday's victory marked the first time Canada has ever won its group at the FIBA World Cup, and they did it in historic fashion. They're the third team in men's World Cup history to start a tournament with three wins by at least 25 points, and the first to do so since 1986.
Canada is just the 3rd team in men's World Cup history to start a tournament with 3 wins by at least 25 points.
They're the first team to win their first 3 games of the WC by 25+ points since the Soviet Union in 1986.
— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) August 29, 2023
Luca Banchi, Latvia's coach, was impressed with what he saw from his opponents, saying "you have to be perfect when you play teams like Canada," per Sportsnet's Arash Madani.
Banchi was not happy with the officials for the contest, though, voicing his displeasure after his team suffered its first loss of the tournament.
"My feeling is that contacts were not judged by the same criteria from the very beginning. Three referees from America doesn't sound fair," Banchi said, according to basketnews.com.
"Don't look at the names they have on their shirts. [Arturs] Zagars deserved the same treatment as Gilgeous-Alexander. It's not a matter of salary, popularity or age.
Canada's next game will take place on Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET, with its opponent still to be determined. Canada will play the second seed in Group G, which will either be Brazil or Ivory Coast.
Here's where things currently stand for the next round of the men's #FIBAWC. Teams in grey are on the outside looking in, (?) indicates spot not clinched. Teams in green are Americas teams, only the 2 best Americas teams advance to the Olympics. pic.twitter.com/T1SC42fqe2
— Vivek Jacob (@vivekmjacob) August 29, 2023