His­tory made

Canada downs Italy to win FIBA un­der-19 World Cup

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS -

Lis­ten­ing to “O Canada” at in­ter­na­tional bas­ket­ball tour­na­ments has al­ways meant a lot to Roy Rana. But af­ter coach­ing Canada’s men’s un­der-19 team to the coun­try’s first-ever world bas­ket­ball ti­tle, it reached a whole new level.

R.J. Bar­rett scored 18 points and grabbed 12 re­bounds as Canada roared past Italy 79-60 on Sun­day to win the FIBA Un­der-19 World Cup, the first time Cana­di­ans of any gen­der or age group have brought home a bas­ket­ball world ti­tle.

“You’re on top of that podium and you know you’ve won it all,” said Rana in a con­fer­ence call from Cairo. “It hasn’t hap­pened be­fore and I think some of us just didn’t even know what to make of it. It’s al­ways beau­ti­ful to hear our an­them and to hear it in this con­text is so spe­cial.”

Nate Dar­ling of Lower Sackville, N.S., and Abu Ki­gab of St. Catharines, Ont., each added 12 points for the team that had up­set the United States 99-87 in the semi­fi­nals a day ear­lier.

“I think ev­ery­body had chills,” said Rana. “Just an in­cred­i­ble en­ergy and pride and emo­tion. It’s hard to ex­plain. Its hard to de­scribe.”

A day af­ter he poured in 38 points against the Amer­i­cans, Bar­rett, a 17-year-old from Mis­sis­sauga, Ont., earned tour­na­ment MVP hon­ours. He went 3-for-13 from the field, and 12of-14 from the free-throw line against Italy.

Bar­rett, who bat­tled play­ers two years his se­nior in Egypt, is con­sid­ered the world’s best player for his age and has been the con­sen­sus top bas­ket­ball prospect from the Class of 2019 for well over a year.

“What I was re­ally im­pressed with is just who he is as a young man,” said Rana. “His char­ac­ter shone through through­out the whole sum­mer, right from Day 1 of train­ing camp. He’s an­other one of our stars that just demon­strates hu­mil­ity, ap­pre­ci­a­tion of every­thing he gets. He’s not en­ti­tled, he’s just will­ing to do all of the lit­tle things that ev­ery­one else does, just a part of the team.

“But when he steps on the court he just trans­forms him­self. He’s a very spe­cial young man and an in­cred­i­ble bas­ket­ball player.”

The Cana­di­ans, who had never played for a medal at this tour­na­ment, started the game slow but opened a gap with a 12-0 run in the first quar­ter and went into the dress­ing room with a siz­able 51-36 half­time lead.

Bar­rett and Ki­gab, who were also named tour­na­ment al­ls­tars, con­tin­ued to pres­sure the Ital­ians in the sec­ond half and opened a 26-point lead in the third quar­ter.

Start­ing point guard Lin­dell Wig­gin­ton of Dart­mouth, N.S., re­turned to the Cana­dian lineup af­ter miss­ing the pre­vi­ous two games with an in­jury. He fin­ished with 11 points, three re­bounds and three as­sists in 29 min­utes.

Rana also guided a team that in­cluded An­drew Wig­gins, now with the NBA’s Minnesota Tim­ber­wolves, to a bronze medal at the 2010 world un­der17 cham­pi­onship.

Wig­gins and for­mer NBA su­per­star Steve Nash both took to so­cial me­dia to con­grat­u­late the team.

Rana said that the sup­port of Cana­dian NBA stars and na­tional team alum had a big im­pact on his team at the tour­na­ment and showed how the coun­try’s bas­ket­ball com­mu­nity is grow­ing and be­com­ing stronger. He also thinks the gold-medal per­for­mance has al­ready had an im­pact on Canada Bas­ket­ball.

“I think our ex­pec­ta­tions are vastly dif­fer­ent than they were in the past,” said Rana. “We go into ev­ery tour­na­ment think­ing we have a le­git­i­mate shot to win a medal and now see­ing we’ve had this suc­cess, that we can win it all, means that our ex­pec­ta­tions have risen.”

AP PHOTO

DeMarre Car­roll, right, has an­nounced he’s leav­ing the Toronto Rap­tors.

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