Canada blew out France in both clubs first game of the 2023 FIBA World Cup (they’re in group H). Each country is talented with multiple NBA players, and through the first half, it was a close game. Canada got their bearings after a slow start and dominated on both ends in the second half. Dillon Brooks, Luguentz Dort, and Dwight Powell each played big roles in the Canadian defense, which forced France into 16 turnovers, six more than Canada.
France Started OK
France had a small lead at the end of the first quarter. Evan Fournier hit two threes, one was a sweet step back over SGA, and De Colo hit a couple shots. Canada felt their way into the game. France closed the first quarter strong, holding Canada to zero points in the last two minutes of the first, while scoring five themselves.
When the second quarter rolled around, Canada began to find their offense. They more than doubled their output from the first quarter. Canada showed their whole team can score. Canada only hit one three in the second quarter, but they got to the foul line. One of the Canadian teams biggest strengths is their ability to drive downhill and put pressure on the defense.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was and is a huge part of that, he got to the line nine times in this match. Even though France has Rudy Gobert anchoring the interior, SGA was able to get what he wanted, when he wanted. Shai will go to the same spot each time without fail and helps his team most of the time when he does.
Canada Took Over
The third quarter was when the floodgates opened and Canada took a dominant lead. Canada hit four threes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker did a great job sprinting in transition and spotting up to shoot. The French offense was limited by stifling Canadian defense and poor execution.
Canada got after it, won most of the 50-50 balls, and France had little resistance. France would score and get a stop or two, but then Canada hit a three or got to the foul line. Canada was the stronger, quicker, and more cohesive team.
It was clear less than halfway through the fourth quarter that Canada was winning this game. The French effort on the boards was weak, especially late. Canada shot a lot of threes in the fourth, which often means long rebounds, and the French players looked defeated instead of inspired to chase them down.
What’s Next for These Two Clubs
France has to play with more force in general and precision on offense. The core group of players on the French team have been together for a while, they know how they play. Generally it’s at a slower offensive pace than Canada, predicated upon movement. France plays Latvia next on Sunday, Coach Collet will have them ready.
Canada didn’t close the first quarter well, but they brought it in the second and third. Canada outscored France by four and two in the last two minutes of the second and third Q’s respectively. The game was over in the fourth, closing quarters is huge, and Canada did it after the first.
Canada plays Lebanon next. They ought to beat Lebanon, and are looking primed for a top two finish in group H. France must redeem themselves and aim to be the other top team from the group, but we’ll see. Canada looks like a force to be reckoned with, if you’re counting them out you may be on the wrong end of a bet!