Canada crushes Panama 112-71 in FIBA World Cup qualifying

EDMONTON — It was a David versus Goliath matchup. But, this time, David didn’t come out on top.

Canada remained the only undefeated team in Americas zone FIBA World Cup qualifying, beating Panama 112-71 on Sunday evening at the Edmonton Expo Centre.

Canada, now 10-0, had qualified for the 2023 FIBA World Cup on Thursday with an emphatic win over Venezuela.

Panama moves to 2-8, and is at the bottom of the qualifying group.

Canada was led by a 22-point, two-assist performance from Aaron Best. Kassius Robertson had 13 points and three assists.

Panama got 14 points and nine rebounds from Ernesto Ogilvie.

Canada beat Panama in an entirely different fashion than how they triumphed over Venezuela. Against the Venezuelans, the Canadians dominated the glass, and extended possessions with offensive rebounds. On Sunday, Canada didn’t need to be great rebounders, because they were simply great shooters.

As a team, Canada shot 53 per cent against the Panamanians, while holding the visitors to a 39 per cent shooting accuracy rate.

All 12 of Canada’s players got onto the scoresheet.

Sunday’s game had the feeling of a post-qualification celebration. A 10-0 run near the end of the first quarter asserted Canada’s dominance, and fans were treated to watching a Canadian team trying to score baskets as if this was an All-Star game.

It felt like every time Canada went down the floor, that the home team was interested in putting on a show.

Trae Bell-Haynes got gasps out of the crowd when his crossover dribbles left Panamanian defender Eugenio Bocaz on the floor. Centre Connor Morgan finished a circus alley-oop pass from Kassius Robertson with a thunderous dunk. Melvin Ejim threw down a thunderous dunk off a fast break. Thomas Scrubb threw a cross-court fastball to his brother, Phil Scrubb, who push-passed it to Robertson for a three. Jean-Victor Mukama threw down a dunk after rising high above the rim for a rebound.

For a group of Canadian players who don’t play in the NBA, who aren’t household names, it was a chance to show off just how deep this country is when it comes to basketball talent.

And, the Canadians made it rain from three-point territory, hitting a total of 19 shots from behind the arc.

NEXT FOR CANADA

The players all head back to their club teams. Canada’s next FIBA qualifier is set for Feb. 23, 2023, on the road to No. 4-ranked Argentina.

NOTES

Canada is ranked No. 15 by FIBA, Panama is 51st. … Panama came to Canada on the heels of an 83-79 loss to the Bahamas on Nov. 11. … Canada beat Panama 106-50 Aug. 29 in Panama City. … Jahvon Blair was added to the Canadian roster for the Panama game, replacing guard Kenny Chery, who had to return to Turkey after Thursday’s win over Venezuela because of his club commitments.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2022.

Steven Sandor, The Canadian Press