Canada qualifies for FIBA World Cup of basketball with revenge win over Venezuela in frozen Edmonton

—words and images copyright Christopher Johnson Globalite Media, all rights reserved

Canada qualified for the FIBA World Cup of basketball by getting revenge over Venezuela 94-56 in the fifth window of the Americas qualifiers. 

Canada moves to 9-0 in Group E, blowing out teams by more than 30 points on average. Venezuela falls to 7-2.  

When a physical Venezuela upset Canada in 2015 to qualify for the Olympics, it was a warm September night in Mexico City. Many Canadians felt they were robbed on a call at the end of regulation time. But Venezuela also out-worked Canada in the paint.

Seven years later, Canada scheduled the November 10 rematch and world cup qualifier for Edmonton, the most northern major city in the world’s coldest country. 

Fortunately for Canada, their most abundant national asset came out to play, dishing out temperatures in the minus 20s Celsius.

The tropical Venezuelans tried to avoid the cold by flying into snow-covered Edmonton just a few hours before tip-off. Then they reportedly got delayed waiting for luggage at the airport, which is far south of the city. Then their ground transport was delayed, forcing the South Americans to look at all that exotic white stuff blanketing the evergreens of the Canadian Shield. Tip-off was put back 30-minutes while Canadian fans waited for the live broadcast on Sportsnet. 

The acclimatized Canadians came out red hot in the white cold, hitting 36 of 70 shots on the night. Canada scored the first 7 points and led Venezuela 25-10 after the first quarter behind four threes by the Scrubb brothers from the powerhouse Carleton University Ravens. 

Even without their NBA stars, Canada’s depth wore down Venezuela, and they out-rebounded the South Americans by a whopping 54 to 26. 

Several Canadians made their case for joining NBA stars such as Andrew Wiggins at the world championships. 

Owen Klassen, with 11 points and 10 rebounds, showed muscle inside. 

Kassius Robertson had 16 points on quick releases from downtown; he’s 28-of-49 from three-land in 9 qualifying games. 

Thomas Scrubb finished with 12 and Phil Scrubb had 8 points. 

Kenny Chery had six assists and two steals in the first half and finished the game with 14 points on four from deep.

Jhornan Zamora led Venezuela with 14. Nestor Colmenares and Gregory Vargas added 7 each.

With Nick Nurse busy coaching the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, Nate Bjorkgren led Team Canada assisted by Nathaniel Mitchell, Michael Meeks and Philip Jevtovic. 

“We’re incredibly excited to have home court advantage in Edmonton, as the city is a long-standing partner of our program with a passionate basketball fan-base ready to cheer us on as we work to punch our ticket to the FIBA World Cup in 2023,” Canada Basketball President and CEO Michael Bartlett said before the game, according to Canada Basketball’s official website. 

The Raptors Superfan joined a vocal crowd at the Edmonton EXPO Centre, stirring memories of Canada’s historic win over Charles Barkley’s USA team at the World University Games in the ButterDome in Edmonton in 1983.

Team Canada is currently ranked 15th in the FIBA World Ranking presented by Nike. 

Canada will host Panama on Sunday night at the Edmonton EXPO Centre. Sportsnet ONE and SN NOW are broadcasting the games live. 

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