Team Canada put on a show in Laval

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Canada beat Brazil last Thursday night in an 85-77 victory in front of 4500 fans at Place Bell. Kelly Olynyk led the charge with 20 points and 19 rebounds.

Team Canada was in Laval ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers against Brazil at Place Bell. They were coming off a 30-point win against the Virgin Islands on July 2nd. Both countries were 5-1 in the 1st round of qualifications. Now in the 2nd round, they have to face off against Brazil, Venezuela and Chile home and away for each.

Montreal’s own Khem Birch (Orlando Magic) was a part of the roster on Thursday night. Other NBA players like Justin Jackson (Orlando Magic), Cory Joseph (Indiana Pacers), Kelly Olynyk (Miami Heat) and Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers) were in uniform as well. Even Brazil gave us the likes of Leonardo Barbosa (Phoenix Suns) and Anderson Varejao who is now an ex-NBA player (Flamengo).

The first half of the game was a great show for the fans. Both sides came out firing on both ends of the floor. Canada was 8/14 from 3, but Kelly Olynyk really set the tone for his squad scoring 12pts with the addition of Cory Joseph adding 7pts. Fans were hoping to see Khem Birch ball out, but an eye injury while defending Barbosa on a drive stopped that from happening.

In the second half of the game, Canada really spread out the floor to get themselves easy buckets from inside and outside and the same energy carried over in the rebounding.  Kelly Olynyk and Tristan Thompson really led the charge on the boards with a combined 31. Kevin Pangos gave Canada a boost as well with 10pts after a scoreless first half. Brazil made a run at the end of the game but Canada tightened up on defence to hold them off. The final score was 85-77 for the home team.

The 4512 fans that were in Laval yesterday really had a great show to watch. Quebec doesn’t often have NBA players come out here so “hopefully they took advantage”, Olynyk stated. “It was a great turnout! I didn’t know how it would be, it’s first time really in Quebec. You can tell the people here love the game of the basketball. We appreciated Quebec hosting us”, he added.

It seemed that everyone from the coaches, players and the fans enjoyed the experience. Kelly Olynyk finished the night with 20 points and 19 rebounds along with 16 points from Cory Joseph. Canada has now won their game in Valdivia 84-61 against Chile on September 17th to complete the fourth window of qualifications and get a 7-1 record.