Canada‘s berth in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 was already assured, but the Canadians won in front of their home fans in Edmonton, Alberta, 112-71 on Sunday night to improve to 10-0 in Group E.
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair, with Tyler Gaskins, Ernesto Oglivie, and Josimar Ayarza all scoring five points. Panama never led again.
The Canadian rotation would work as well as ever, as Conor Morgan and Trae Bell-Haynes each scored 7 points in the quarter (with Morgan shooting a perfect 1.000) and Aaron Best added 6 points (also shooting 1.000) to the total.
Canada took a commanding 30-21 lead into halftime; Panama responded by closing to within four points, 32-28, but then went on a 17-0 run that was only the beginning of a massive gap they’d open up.
Canada kept Gaskins and Oglivie scoreless, reduced Ayarza to only 2 points, and held Panama to 11 points as a team in the quarter, all while Best scored 14 points.
Despite only turning the ball over eight times themselves, Canada scored 18 of their total match points from turnovers thanks to some poor play from a disgruntled Panama squad and some dogged play on their part.
Canada opened the second half on a 10-0 run, increasing their advantage to 30 less than three minutes into the third quarter thanks to strong play from Melvin Ejim and Phil Scrubb.
Canada’s three-point shooting was unstoppable, as the team nailed half of its 15 attempts (Best hit six of eight for 18 of his 20 points through three quarters) and Kassius Robertson hit three of his four attempts (nine of his 13 points). Panama had no response.
Canada, despite having one of the best reserves in the tournament, was unable to hold down Panama in the fourth quarter despite having five players with 10 or more points.
Eugenio Luzcando, who had been working overtime on defense, converted on offense to give Panama new energy, and Trevor Gaskins, who had been held back by Canada early, continued to push as Panama went on a 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter.
Jahvon Henry-Blair, a star in the AmeriCup, scored seven points off the bench, while Jean-Victor Mukama had an immediate impact off the bench as well, scoring seven points in a little over four minutes of action, demonstrating that Canada’s success depends on all 12 guys playing at once.
Best led all scorers with 22 points, while Robertson, Bell-Haynes, Morgan, and Ejim all ended with 12.
Oglivie scored 14 points and grabbed 9 boards to lead Panama in both categories. Carlos Rodriquez scored 13 points and dished out five assists, making him one of four players to reach double figures in scoring.
Despite having a formidable starting five, Panama’s bench could only muster 11 points in the loss against Canada’s bench.
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