Image courtesy of FIBA

The Junior Men’s National Team (JMNT) has finished in sixth-place at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men following a tight 72-68 loss in the fifth-place game. The sixth-place standing is the highest ever by a Canadian under-19 squad in the competition’s 34-year history. The team that finished sixth in 1987 was an under-20 group.

Spain raced-out to an early 7-0 lead with some timely offence, but Canada quickly settled into the game. A defensive battle ensued with both teams focused on protecting their own ends. Canada would go on to outscore Spain 8-6 in the quarter, but the Red and White trailed 14-8 after ten minutes of play. The JMNT kept pace with an aggressive Spanish squad through the second, but a late run put Spain ahead 39-26.

Team Canada came out in the third quarter with a renewed sense of determination. The team quickly cut its halftime deficit to single digits and closed within five points in just over three minutes. Spain responded, but Canada showed it would not give up without a fight. Spain outscored Canada 21-20 in the period, but Canada had taken back some momentum.

The JMNT carried through their strong play in the third and opened the final frame with a 13-2 run to close the gap to three points at 62-59. A composed Spanish team held off Canada to rebuild a small lead, but the resilient Canadians closed to three once again with just over a minute to play. The back-and-forth action continued, but Canada could not draw closer than three. Team Canada outscored the opposition 22-12 in the quarter, but ran out of time in the end.

Trey Lyles returned from an injury to power his Canadian side with game-highs of 25 points and 17 rebounds. Xavier Rathan-Mayes of Scarborough, Ont. finished an all-around performance with 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Tyler Ennis wrapped-up his strong tournament with seven points, six rebounds and two assists. The game’s statistics can be viewed here.

Team Canada’s historic sixth-place is a credit to the hard work of the players, coaches and staff who worked tirelessly to achieve this result. The next wave of Canadian talent will take the lessons they’ve learned and the experiences they’ve shared in Prague into their futures representing the Red and White of Team Canada.