Canada’s U23 basketball team defeats France 78-60 to claim Gold at Globl Jam

TORONTO — Aaliyah Edwards gave fans a high-five and posed for photos as she left the Mattamy Athletic Center field with her teammates on Sunday, clutching her tournament MVP trophy.

Canada had easily beaten France 78-60 moments earlier in the inaugural Globl Jam tournament.

Billed as a bridge between the national youth and senior programs, as well as a rare opportunity for Canadians to play basketball at home, the Under-23 tournament was also something of a coming-out party for Edwards and the stars. rising women Merissah Russell, Shaina Pellington and Shy Day-Wilson.

« It was amazing, » Edwards said. « It’s been great to have a lot of community… just coming to watch women’s basketball. Women’s basketball is growing here in Canada, and it’s great to have people coming to see what we have got, we can be dominant and we can be aggressive on the pitch.

« I’ve talked (to my friends and family) about my quality, to let them see how good I am in person, it’s awesome, » she added with a laugh.

Day-Wilson had 19 points and nine assists, while Edwards, a Connecticut Huskies forward, added 13 points and seven rebounds. Russell, a Louisville forward, added 11 points, while Arizona guard Pellington finished with 10.

“For us college players, being able to play at home is great for us because people are used to trying to find a stream (broadcast) or link to watch us in the States,” said Edwards, who had 20 years a day earlier. . « So it’s great to have a real advantage on the pitch and to feel the love. »

Baylor University, representing the United States, lost a heartbreaker 77-73 to Brazil in the men’s final on Sunday night, after eliminating Canada 93-87 on Saturday.

Yago Dos Santos led Brazil with 30 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in the gold medal final, while Caio Pacheco scored 12 points and Marcio Santos scored 11.

Jalen Bridges had 13 points for the United States, and teammate Keyonte George added 12. Jordan Turner and Dantwan Grimes each scored 11 points for the Americans, who trailed 42-38 at halftime .

The Canadians went 3-0 in the preliminary round, beating Belgium, France and the USA, represented by Virginia Commonwealth. They crushed the Americans 85-60 in Saturday’s semifinal.

« I think it’s amazing, » said Russell, a 20-year-old from Ottawa. « The most important thing for me, I was so excited to play in front of my parents, because it’s been so long because of COVID. They haven’t seen me play and a lot of people can’t watch us play at the (college) network. It’s just hard to do.

« We talked about it: none of us have ever played at home wearing Canada, have we? It’s just amazing, we’re so proud and we got the ‘dub’ and I’m so excited. »

Canada led 19-16 after one quarter, but Yvonne Ejim’s layup at the end of the second capped the Canadians’ 13-3 run that gave them a 13-point lead. They headed into halftime with a 37-25 lead.

Canada continued to have a blast in the second half. Leading 58-43 with a quarter to play, Pellington’s layup with 8:25 left gave the Canadians a 22-point lead and it was almost over.

Edwards, Russell, a Louisville forward, and Arizona fullback Pellington were part of the Canadian team at the Tokyo Olympics last summer and will attend Canada’s senior camp in late July in New York. Canada will play two exhibition games against Australia in preparation for the World Cup this fall.

They hope their performance this week made a statement about their future roles in the senior team.

« Absolutely, » Edwards said. « It’s just a glimpse of what the next generation will look like. It’s U23, so it can be a great transition to the senior national team. I think it showed that we can be dominant at this level and in senior women. level. »

Canada’s new senior coach, Victor Lapena, sat on the pitch for all of Canada’s games.

« I’m so excited for the future of women’s basketball in Canada because it’s just the beginning, » Russell said.

Carly Clarke, Women’s U23 Head Coach and Senior Team Assistant, said the tournament was great for Edwards & Co.’s continued growth, leading up to the World Cup and beyond the Olympics. of Paris 2024.

« There’s a lot to deal with when you’re playing at home in a big event like this, » Clarke said. « There are distractions everywhere, there is pressure to perform and they have dealt with it.

« Put all these pieces together, these are things you have to do on a World Cup stage or an Olympic stage. You have to be able to do your best when there’s a lot going on around you. I think our team handled it very, very well. »

Clarke gave the inaugural event a big boost.

« It was awesome. It was world class all week, » Clarke said.

Canada Basketball CEO Mike Bartlett said the event, which will return to Toronto next summer, is a great way to connect with the game’s future stars.

“I think that will actually propel this program, the ripple effect of it for the next 10 to 15 years … when some of them will have to make choices at times to play for us or not,” said Bartlett. « We are in a situation where we create a (strong) relationship with them. »

Canada Basketball dreams of Globl Jam becoming the basketball version of the World Junior Hockey Championship, both as a source of revenue and as a platform to grow the game’s audience in Canada.

The tournament may not have drawn the crowds organizers had hoped for – most Canada games have seen the Mattamy Athletic Center less than half full. But Bartlett said the basketball community has embraced him. Tournament spectators included Toronto Raptors NBA Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Raptors executives Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster, members of the senior women’s basketball team -ball, and Olympic swimming star Penny Oleksiak.

Bartlett said FIBA ​​was happy with the event and visiting teams said they would like to return next summer.

The Canadian 3×3 Championships, held in conjunction with Globl Jam, drew large crowds near Yonge-Dundas Square.

TIPS : Canada Basketball honored its 2021 and 2022 Hall of Fame inductees at halftime, including players Stewart Granger, Angela Straub and Tony Simms, coach Michele Belanger and builder John Bitove. Retired NBA stars Steve Nash and Rick Fox, who were not in attendance, were also among the inductees.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 10, 2022.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press


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