Canada's men qualify for FIBA World Cup with 94-56 win over Venezuela

EDMONTON — Canada is going to the FIBA World Cup.

Kassius Robertson’s 16-point performance helped Canada's men's basketball team beat Venezuela 94-56 on Thursday to clinch a berth in next summer's major international tournament.

The win improved Canada's record to 9-0 in Americas zone qualifying. The Venezuelans fall to 7-2.

Owen Klassen had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Canada (9-0), while Kenny Chery had 12 points and six assists.

Canada absolutely dominated Venezuela on the glass, out-rebounding the visitors 54-26. The Venezuelans could not get offensive boards to stretch possessions, getting just five second-chance points on the night.

Jhornan Zamora led Venezuela (7-2) with 14 points and three rebounds.

Canada came out hard early in the first quarter and pressed the Venezuelans, who just got off a plane a couple of hours before the game. The start time was pushed back 25 minutes because of the Venezuelan team’s late arrival.

With Canada putting high pressure on the ball, and often double-teaming the player on the dribble, the Venezuelans missed their first six shots. Of their first eight attempts, three were air balls. It took almost four minutes for the Venezuelans to hit a shot, a Zamora three-pointer.

A towering block by Klassen, stuffing a Windi Graterol layup attempt, brought the crowd in Edmonton to its feet. Canada finished the first quarter up 25-10.

Venezuela went on a nine-point run in the second quarter to reduce the deficit to 10 points, but it was as close as they got.

In the second quarter. Klassen had the highlight-reel basket of the first half, finishing an alley-oop pass from Chery.

Canada stretched the lead in the third quarter, outscoring Venezuela 24-11 in the frame. If there was any life left in the visitors, it was taken out of them by Robertson, who hit a three-pointer, was fouled in the act of shooting, and iced the four-point play by making the free throw.

By the fourth quarter, with the result well in hand, baskets from the visitors generated polite applause from the home crowd.

NEXT FOR CANADA: Panama’s national team (2-6) will play Canada Sunday in Edmonton.

NOTES: Canada is ranked No. 15 in men’s basketball by FIBA. Venezuela is 17th. … At 9-0, Canada is the only undefeated team of the 12 teams remaining in two Americas qualifying groups …. In FIBA, teams get two points for a win, but one for a loss. The only way to get nothing out of a game is via forfeit …. Of the 12 teams in Americas qualifying, Canada has the most points, with 914 over nine games. Canada is the only team averaging more than 100 points per game.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2022.

Steven Sandor, The Canadian Press