Canada suffers heart breaking loss to Lithuania
Canada collapses at worlds vs. Lithuania - sportsnet.ca WAP
IZMIR, Turkey -- As Jermaine Anderson put up a last-second three-pointer, he had every reason to think Canada was about to get its first win at the world basketball championships.
The Canadians were hot from beyond the arc early on against Lithuania, but after driving down the sideline with the ball in the frantic final moments Sunday, Anderson missed the three and Canada lost 70-68.
"There was about two seconds when I looked up," said Anderson. "Even if I drove it would have been good shot. I thought I would pull up where I hit a little bit of daylight, but the shot just didn't drop."
Time might be running out on Canada's chances to advance into the knockout rounds in Istanbul.
With two losses already, a loss against France in their next game on Tuesday would likely keep Canada from finishing in the top four of six Group D teams.
"We continue to learn every time we step on the floor and we are battling many things this tournament," Canadian head coach Leo Rautins said in a release.
"Our expectation for the worlds was to get through the pool, and a lot of things have changed due to injury and health, but we don't plan on giving up and the players are not going to give up."
Canada started the game blazing with back-to-back three-pointers by Anderson.
Andy Rautins gave Canada a 15-4 lead with 5:30 left in the first quarter, and the team's four three-pointers in the quarter gave an early impression that they were on the way to redeeming Saturday's 81-71 loss to Lithuania.
Canada used a 10-0 advantage in second chance points as it built a halftime lead.
Meanwhile, the Lithuanians couldn't get on track as they missed 12-of-15 three-pointers.
Canada was able to expand its lead in the first minutes of the second half with the aid of stout defence from centre Joel Anthony.
With seven minutes left in the third, he intimidated a Lithuanian big away from attempting a putback layup after corraling an offensive rebound underneath the basket. A minute later, Mantas Kalnietis weaved to the basket and unspooled an open layup that was blocked by a hustling Anthony from behind, drawing cheers from the crowd and preserving Canada's 53-39 lead.
"Defensively, he was a big factor," said Lithuanian coach Kestutis Kemzura of Anthony.
Anthony was involved in so much rough interior play that by the middle of the fourth quarter he was patrolling the lane with the first couple letters of his name on the back of his jersey nearly ripped off.
Unfortunately for Canada, his offence looked at times just as ragged as he shot a couple of airballs and struggled to finish post moves.
That struggle carried over to the whole team, which endured a decisive 27-3 run by Lithuania over the end of the third quarter and into the fourth.
Lithuania took its first lead when Tomas Delininkaitis made a corner three-pointer to make it 58-57 a few seconds into the fourth.
"We did everything we could," said Anderson, who led the team with 15 points and five assists. "We fought for 40 minutes, but unfortunately we fell short tonight."
Linas Kleiza led Lithuania with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Anthony had 12 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots, while Denham Brown had 11 points and Levon Kendall added 9 points and 11 rebounds.
"It was a very difficult and very tough game and not a good day for us with so many missed shot opportunities," Kemzura said in a release. "I credit the Canadian team coaching staff and players as they prepared tactically for this match. Canada played well."
Canada plays its next game against France on Tuesday (11:30 a.m. ET, TSN2).
"France is on a high after beating Spain and Lebanon so they will be very confident," Canada's Aaron Doornekamp said. "We will need to continue to play good defence and offence, and put ourselves in a good position to win."
Kleiza is gonna be good for us this season imo. He's just starting to come into his own at 25yrs old. He's gonna be a fan favourite.
Leo has taken quite a bit of flak in the past since he's taken the reigns of Team Canada.... but full credit to him, these guys are competing now and seem like they have a shot to win almost any game that they're in.
That would have been one of the biggest wins in Team Canada history.
Friggin' Kleiza! :sigh:
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