Gonzaga commit Kelly Olynyk goes up for what appears to be an eventual blocked shot against the United States in the FIBA U-19 Quarterfinals.
The United States U-19 team has been extremely impressive throughout the FIBA World Championship in New Zealand and they continued that excellent play in the quarterfinals against Canada. Thanks to an unconscious effort from some of their perimeter scorers, the US defeated the Canadians 93-73. With the loss, the Canadians are now relegated to the consolation part of the bracket where they will face Puerto Rico as they battle for the 5th-8th position. The Americans will march on to the semifinals where they will have an outstanding match up with another tournament favorite, Croatia.
It was a bit of a mixed bag for Gonzaga's Mangisto Arop and Kelly Olynyk against the Americans. Throughout the tournament, Arop has been one of the most consistent offensive threats for the Canadians but against the USA, he struggled to find his game. He finished with 8 points, one of his lowest totals on 2-9 shooting. He did well to fill up the stat sheet with five rebounds, two assists, and two steals but without Arop's tenacious scoring, Canada was bound to struggle. Kelly Olynyk, on the other hand, probably had one of his better outings shooting 6-10 from the field and finishing with 14 points. He only played in 25 minutes of the game but was able to grab seven rebounds against the physical American team. Here is a quote from Manny Arop following the game:
When anyone shoots the ball like that it’s pretty tough to guard. But at the same I feel that maybe we didn’t bring our best defensive intensity. When a team comes out shooting the ball at a high level like that you have to bring your defensive intensity, and I didn’t feel like we brought it to the level we required
As Manny alluded to, the United States presented a very difficult match up for team Canada and they just got hot at the right time, especially in the first half. In the first half alone they connected on 11 of their 16 three-point shot attempts and finished shooting a blistering 54% from beyond the arc. One culprit of the perimeter barrage is a name that Gonzaga, and basketball fans in general are very familiar with, Seth Curry. Curry recently transferred to Duke after a year at Liberty and is the younger brother of Stephen Curry. Curry and the rest of the United States team built such an advantage in the first half that Canada never mounted a realistic challenge in the second half of the game.
Canada moves to 3-4 overall in the tournament and will go against France, Argentina, and Puerto Rico in the 5th-8th place classification. If I did the math correctly, they should be playing Puerto Rico tonight at 9 PM PST.