O Canada! We’re No. 1 with U19 men’s basketball title
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 U19 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 each added 12 points for the team that upset the U.S. 99-87 in the semifinals a day earlier.
A day after he poured in 38 points against the U.S., Barrett, a 17-year-old from Mississauga, was named tournament MVP.
Canada had never played for a medal at this tournament
Barrett and Kigab, who were also named tournament all-stars, continued to pressure the Italians.
Rana also guided a team that included Andrew Wiggins, now with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, to a bronze at the 2010 world U-17 championship. Wiggins posted a photo of Canada’s winning team on his Instagram account: “Congratulations to Team Canada for making history on winning the #FIBAU19 World Cup Championship.”
Former NBA superstar Steve Nash and current GM of Canada’s men’s senior team took to Twitter to congratulate them.
“BIG Congrats Canada’s U19’s. World Champs! Lots of hard work from lots of people @CanBball for years. Enjoy this Canada. #WeAreTeamCanada,” he tweeted.
Canadian players celebrate their World Cup victory after beating Italy, 79-60.