Photo Credit Freestyle Photography
SHENZHEN, China (CIS) – On the fourth day of competition at the 26h Summer Universiade, men’s basketball continued to be a highlight for Team Canada on Sunday as they stunned defending champion Serbia to stay unbeaten after two outings.
The new moniker of Canada’s hoopsters should be the ‘Cardio Kids’ as the squadron used their conditioning to run their second straight opponent into the ground, downing the Serbians 70-67 to take sole possession of first place in Pool B.
It was Canada’s effort in the third quarter that proved to
be the difference. Trailing by seven at halftime, the Canucks
utilized a 12-to-4 run to take their first lead of the night midway
through the frame on a Nathan Yu lay-up. Saskatoon native Michael
Lieffers was the catalyst during that stretch, scoring six of his
13 points in the quarter, including throwing down a two-handed slam
over a Serbian defender that brought the crowd to its feet.
“We are all pretty similar guys, on and off the court, and right now it’s just clicking,” said Lieffers in the postgame media scrum. “We were confident going into this game, we knew it was going to be close, we have a goal of winning this tournament and tonight was a step towards that goal.”
Canada closed the third stanza up four (55-51) and opened a nine-point advantage in the fourth before Serbia clued in that they couldn’t walk their way to another Universiade title. Forward Vladimir Lucic helped bring his team to within two points (66-64), scoring eight of his game-high 25 in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough, as Canada closed out the win at the free throw line.
In women’s basketball, Canada opened pool play with an ugly 52-50 win over Poland. Kendel Ross of Sarnia, Ont., scored a team-high 13 points, including the game’s winning basket with only four seconds left in regulation. The Canadians (1-0) get back on the court on Monday when they face Russia (0-0) at 10 a.m. local time (Sunday, 10 p.m. ET) with a chance to advance to the second round with a victory.
In artistic gymnastics, Canada’s men barely missed a medal as they were less than three points back of Romania for a bronze medal in the team competition, scoring an overall total of 261.750 points. During the day event, Nathan Gafuik of Calgary was a standout as he finished second in total points in the individual qualification with 89.600 points followed by Casey Sandy of Brampton, Ont., in 11th position with 85.650 and Jackson Payne of Edmonton in 14th with 85.350 points.
In the first day of the swim meet, Canada reached a pair of finals. The top results came from Matthew Swanston of Newmarket, Ont., who placed sixth in the men’s 200-metre backstroke, and the women’s 4x100 freestyle relay, which bettered that performance a few moments later with a fifth-place finish in the final race of the night session.
Nine other Canadian swimmers were in action on Sunday. Of the group, Zack Chetrat of Oakville, Ont., came closest to earning a spot in the final as he finished 10th in the men’s 200 butterfly in a time of 1:59.00. His teammate Jonathan Gagné of Montreal settled for 5th place in 2:06.98.
In the men’s 200 breaststroke, Richard Funk of Edmonton was 11th in 2:15.07 and Jason Block of Calgary was 23rd in 2:18.62. In the men’s 200 backstroke, Adam Best of Ottawa finished 17th in 2:01.97. In the women’s 50 butterfly, Paige Schultz of Toronto placed 12th in 27.70, while Caroline Kuczynski of Montreal followed in 19th position in 28.21. In the women’s 800 free, Zsofia Balazs of Toronto and Pamela Ruskys of Kingston, Ont., were 18th and 19th, respectively, with times of 8:59.70 and 9:00.73.
In table tennis, the men’s team bounced back from a loss on Saturday to China and defeated Australia by a 3-1 score. Pierre-Luc Hinse of Gatineau, Que., won 3-0 over Chi Ho Tang (11-6, 11-4, 11-4) while Ling Kun Yang of Laval, Que., lost 3-1 to David Powell (11-6, 11-9, 1-11, 11-8). Peng Guo of Montreal and Ling Kun Yang battled back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 over Michael Brown and Chi Ho Tang (9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5) and Hinse finished the day with another 3-0 victory against Brown (11-3, 11-9, 11-1).
In men’s soccer, Canada’s dreams of advancing to the medal round were turned into a nightmare on Sunday night, as a talented Japanese squad cruised to a 6-1 win to hand the Canadians their second loss of the tournament. Canada (0-2) closes out Pool D play against Ghana (0-1-1) Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. local time (7:30 a.m. ET). Ghana lost 1-0 to Great Britain (2-0) on Sunday.
In men’s beach volleyball, the team of Simon Fecteau-Boutin of Lévis, Que., and Cameron Wheelan of Barrie, Ont., remained perfect after day two of competition, defeating Indonesia 2-0 (21-14, 21-19) to finish in first place in Pool C with a 3-0 record. The pair advances to the second round of the tournament, where their opponent will be determined when pool play concludes.
François-Guy Allaire of Notre-Dame-du-Laus, Que., and Michael Plantingua of Langley, B.C., struggles continued in Pool H, as the duo dropped a straight-set match 2-0 (22-20, 21-13) to Thailand 1, falling to 0-3 and last place in its pool. Despite their difficulties in the preliminaries, Allaire and Plantinga also advanced to the next stage.
On the women’s side, Caleigh Whitaker of Sharon, Ont., and Kristina Valjas of Toronto put themselves in position to win their pool, finishing the day a perfect 2-0 after dropping the Czech Republic 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) and the Ukraine 2-0 (21-13, 21-11). The pair face China 2 (1-1) tomorrow at 3 p.m. local time (3 a.m. ET).
Meanwhile, the pair of Kristina Vlcek of Toronto and Becky Billings of Ottawa weren’t as lucky, falling 2-0 to Slovakia 1 (21-17, 21-9) in their lone game of the day. The team battles Japan (0-1) tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time (2 a.m. ET).
In women’s volleyball, Canada (0-1) dropped its opening match, falling in straight sets to Poland 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 28-26). Marie-Sophie Nadeau of Montreal paced Canada with 11 kills and two blocks. The Canadians play Taiwan tomorrow at 6 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET).
In men’s volleyball, Canada (2-0) continued their winning ways with a straight-set win 3-0 (25-12, 25-14, 25-23) against host China. Karl De Grandpré led with 12 kills while Spencer Leiske added seven kills and four blocks. With two wins over the first two nights and with two games remaining in their preliminary round, Canada (2-0) occupies the top spot in Pool A and has a rendez-vous with Norway on Tuesday at 6 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET).
In the first day of action for judo, Stéfanie Tremblay of Saguenay, Que., lost to Angela Simona Mara, Romania in the round of 32 in women's 63 kg event.
In tennis, after waiting over two hours after scheduled match time, the Canadian men’s doubles team wasted no time in dismantling Indonesia by a decisive 2-0 score (6-1, 6-1) on a Sunday afternoon in their first match of the Universiade. On a hot and humid afternoon, Phil Anderson of Halifax and Christian Lee-Daigle of Tecumseh, Ont., did not let a lengthy delay - due to earlier matches going the distance - derail them, winning their first-ever match together as a doubles pair. They worked efficiently and continued to put the pressure on their opponents with a quick 47 minute victory.
In women’s water polo, Canada’s fell behind 4-0 in the first quarter and never recovered en route to an 8-6 loss to Italy in its second of three pool outings. Wasted in the loss was a five-goal effort from Monika Eggens of Pitt Meadows, B.C.
For the second straight match, the Canadians (0-1-1) lacked the ability to finish on the attack, hitting the back of the net only six times on 35 shots for a meager 17.1 shooting percentage. Canada, which finished fourth in 2009 when the sport made its Universiade debut, will challenge the host team from China on Tuesday at 7 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET), a squad that will represent its country next summer at the London Olympics.
In the Universiade debut of weightlifting, Canada had a medal hopeful who was hampered by an injury but valiantly competed. Marilou Dozois-Prévost of Candiac, Que., who won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and was an Olympian in 2008, settled for eighth place in the women’s 53 kg event as she battled hard to lift. Jessica Ruel of Macamic, Que., ended up in 13th position.