Summer Universiade M BBall (Aug 14): Canada stuns defending champs
Photo Credit Freestyle Photography
SHENZHEN, China (CIS) – They will have to start calling Canada’s men’s basketball team at the 2011 26th Summer Universiade the ‘Cardio Kids’, as the squadron is using their conditioning to run opponents into the ground. On Sunday night, playing against the defending FISU Games champions from Serbia, Canada ramped up the tempo in the second half, winning a shocker 70-67 to remain undefeated in Pool B play.
Canada (2-0) is back in action on August 17, when they face Australia (0-1) at 10 a.m. local time (Tuesday 10 p.m. ET). Australia lost their opener to Serbia 72-67.
For the second night in a row 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 game midway through the frame on a Nathan Yu lay-up. 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, a native of Saskatoon, 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 quarter up four (55-51) and opened up a nine-point lead in the fourth before Serbia clued in that they couldn’t walk their way to another Universiade title. Forward Vladimir Lucic helped bring Serbia 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 70-67.
Serbia had opened the game on a 9-3 run, but the undersized Canadians hung tough with the top-ranked Serbians from the outset, trailing 23-22 after the opening quarter.
“I said it yesterday and I will say it again today, we are a resilient group, we aren’t going to back down, and we aren’t afraid to grind it out,” said Warren Ward, who finished tied with Tyson Hinz for the team lead with 14 points. “Cole [Hobin] organized a Facebook group to organize our training for this tournament, and we have all been running. I feel so good right now I could play another game.”
Canada finished shooting 47 per cent from the field and forced 25 Serbian turnovers. After shooting 67 per cent from the field in the first quarter, Serbia connected on only 1-of-13 three-point attempts in the second half.