“This game is another historic win for Canada,” said CMNT Head Coach Roy Rana. “There has only been one or two times that Canada has medaled at the worlds…and for these young kids to do this in the beginning of their career will only raise all of our expectations in a good way for these guys to have that self confidence to play internationally.”
Canada had six players score in double digits compared to Lithuania’s three. Olivier Hanlan (Gatineau, Que.) led the red and white with 15 points, and was four-for-five from the free throw line. Junior Lamomba followed with 14 points, and five rebounds. Kevin Pangos (Holland Landing, Ont.) and Negus Webster-Chan (Scarborough, Ont.) both contributed 13 points in the match, with Dyshawn Pierre (Whitby, Ont.) and Andrew Wiggins (Toronto, Ont.) each collecting 12.
“Having the Canadian jersey on your chest, and playing for your country knowing that the whole entire world is watching… it’s unbelievable,” said Lamomba, who also competed with Canada’s Junior Men’s National team that earned a bronze medal at the U18 FIBA Americas Championship earlier this summer. “I think people are going to start to realize that we have a lot of great talent and we are winners.”
Lithuania’s Martynas Paliukenas led all scorers with 16 points and was also tops in assists with five. Simonas Kymantas was a force on the boards leading all scorers with 14 rebounds.
Both teams came out strong in the first quarter, knowing the significance of this game. The Canadians knew it would be tough battle with the adverse conditions (no air conditioning in the gym) especially playing a European team in Europe. The Lithuanian fans were chanting behind the Canadian bench throughout the game. But Canada came with one mission and focus – play tough and claim a medal.
At the end of the first quarter Canada was down four (24-28), the squad battled back to chip away at Lithuania’s lead controlling the second stanza 16-15. At halftime coach Rana took the team outside to cool off and motivate the team for the second half, and his guys did not disappoint. They led the third period 19-18, only down two on Lithuania. It would all come down to last 10 minutes.
Lithuania came out strong offensively in the fourth quarter, going on a run and forcing coach Rana to call a time out to regroup. Canada was trailing 81-77 when Hanlan nailed his long-distance shot on a pass from Pangos with 36 seconds remaining. Hanlan was fouled after grabbing a defensive rebound with 13 seconds left and made both free throws to put Canada ahead 82-81. Pierre iced the victory with a final free throw.
Rana added, “A lot of these kids are used to playing to win. Every one of these kids came here thinking that we were good enough to win a medal. We lived up to our potential. In the end this was a great team and effort by all 12 of our players.”
In the other medal game, Team USA beat Poland 111-80 to claim the gold medal. Please see below for the final standings in the tournament.
This is a great accomplishment in the Canadian basketball. There has been only one other time in the history of the World Championship that a Canadian men’s team has medaled. In 2005, the U21 Men’s team claimed bronze at the FIBA World Championship in Argentina.
“This is an important step in the lives of these young men and an even more vital leap forward in the evolution of Canadian basketball, commented Wayne Parrish, CEO and Executive Director for Canada Basketball. “We’re working very hard to become a force on the global stage and with this result the basketball world can’t help but notice.”
So what was the secret to the success for this very talented U17 team?
“This was a team willing to make sacrifices for each other in order to be successful,” added Rana. “From Matt Willms (Leamington, Ont.), our twelfth man who understood the long term goal, to our captains Pangos, Bennett and Notice, this is a selfless group, and we are all focused on the same goal.”
Pangos added, “Our toughness. Coach Rana was always telling us that we have to be tough, stay level headed and good things can happen”.
For the co-captain this tournament was a culmination of a lot of hard work. After winning the bronze medal last year at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship with Bennett, Notice, Webster-Chan, Wagner and De Ciman, this accomplishment today is even sweeter.
“This is different… it is definitely the best feeling I have had in my basketball career,” added Pangos. “It feels unbelievable. I’m looking forward to standing on that podium wearing Canada on my chest.”
Pangos, who was also the team’s highest scorer overall earned additional honours being named to the All-Tournament Five as the best point guard of the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship.
Pangos continued, “I hope that this victory can be a big statement that Canada has great young talent coming up. Hopefully, within our country as well since basketball is on the rise in Canada. I also hope when we get back, and not just after this game, that the basketball community continues to be supportive of Canada Basketball.”
Top Five Final Standings – FIBA U17 World Championship: