Minus NBA stars, Canada routs Australia in FIBA friendly
Kevin Pangos leads the way with 18 points
Canada never trailed and outscored Australia 23-13 in the final quarter for a 90-70 win over the home side in a FIBA World Cup warmup basketball game Friday.
The Canadians led 51-36 early in the third quarter but Australia rallied to draw level before the visitors dominated the final period for an easy win. The teams meet again on Saturday night at the same stadium in Perth.
"It's nice to see our guys play pretty good team basketball since we haven't been together very long," head coach Nick Nurse said after the victory.
Australia plays Canada in their first game of the World Cup on Sept. 1 in China.
WATCH | Canada vs. Australia - full game:
Canada goes into the World Cup without most of their NBA stars. Miami Heat's Kelly Olynyk became the latest big-name player to pull out after sustaining a knee injury. He joined Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray, R.J. Barrett, Tristan Thompson, Dwight Powell, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Boucher and Nickeil Alexander-Walker as other top Canadian NBA players to miss the World Cup.
Kevin Pangos of Newmarket, Ont., scored 18 points for Canada, which is being coached by Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse, who led the team to the NBA championship this season. Andrew Nembhard of Aurora, Ont., added 12 points and was among five players to hit double figures for Canada.
"A group like this, when we're playing hard like that, it makes up for a lot of mistakes," Pangos said. "That's what Coach [Nurse] has been preaching a lot. Play hard and aggressive. Play with confidence. I think we did a good job of that tonight. There's definitely room for growth and that's a positive."
WATCH | Devin Heroux chats one-on-one with Nick Nurse:
Sacramento Kings point guard Cory Joseph of Toronto was not in the lineup for Canada.
Patty Mills led Australia with 20 points.
Canada stays in Australia to face New Zealand in a pair of exhibition games Aug. 20-21 before wrapping up its pre-tournament schedule against the United States on Aug. 26
Australia hosts the Americans in Melbourne on Aug. 22 and Aug. 24.
"Chemistry is an elusive thing," Nurse said. "I'm happy we've been able to get some. Most of these guys have played [together] in some form or window or national team basketball together, so there is some more history than just the 10 days, but I'm new so I'm still trying to learn them and they're trying to learn me a little bit so it was nice to have a good chemistry at both ends."
With files from CBC Sports