BASKETBALL Canada starts last-chance Tokyo Games qualifying tourney with 97-91 win over Greece
VICTORIA - Canada started slow but finished strong Tuesday, posting a 97-91 win over Greece in its first test in a must-win Olympic qualifying tournament.
Greece led 50-46 at the half, but the Canadians -- spurred on by their young NBA stars Andrew Wiggins and RJ Barrett, both with double-digit point totals -- roared back in the second half for the win.
Wiggins finished with 23 points and Barrett had 22 points.
Canada next plays China on Wednesday in the tournament to determine one of the final teams to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
The game was played in an empty Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena in Victoria, but with the lifting of some COVID-19 protocols fans will be permitted at the games starting Thursday.
Eight NBA players are on the roster, arguably the most talented Canadian men’s basketball team in history for this week’s tournament on home court.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker (New Orleans), Luguentz Dort (Oklahoma City), Trey Lyles (San Antonio), Mychal Mulder, Dwight Powell (Dallas), Wiggins (Golden State), Barrett (New York) and captain Cory Joseph (Detroit) comprise the Canadian team.
The 12-man roster is rounded out by Trae Bell-Haynes, Anthony Bennett, Aaron Doornekamp and Andrew Nicholson.
Greece is without two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo, with the Milwaukee Bucks competing in the NBA playoffs.
Canada is ranked No. 21 in the world.
In addition to Canada, there are three other last-chance tournaments happening this week to determine final spots, in Croatia, Lithuania and Serbia.
Uruguay, Czech Republic and Turkey are in Group B.
Each team plays the other teams in its group once, the the top two teams in each group will advance to Saturday’s semis.
The two semifinal winners will meet Sunday, with the winner clinching a spot in Tokyo.
The Canadian women’s team, ranked fourth, booked its third consecutive Olympic berth last February.
Records: Canada 1-0, Greece 0-1.
Up next: Canada faces China on Wednesday, Greece plays China on Thursday.
TURKEY 95, URUGUAY 86
Cedi Osman scored 27 points and Turkey won a back-and-forth nightcap in Victoria, ending the game on a 31-14 run.
Alperen Sengun scored 15 points for Turkey, which wasted an 11-point early lead and then rallied in the final minutes.
Omer Yurtseven scored the last seven points of a 10-0 run that gave Turkey a 37-26 lead, its biggest of the game, midway through the second quarter. Uruguay chipped away and led by as many as eight in the fourth, before Osman's 3-pointer with 4:01 left rattled in to put Turkey ahead to stay.
Jayson Granger had 25 points and 10 assists for Uruguay, which got 16 points from Mathias Calfani.
Records: Turkey 1-0, Uruguay 0-1.
Up next: Turkey faces the Czech Republic on Wednesday, Uruguay plays the Czech Republic on Thursday.
BELGRADE, SERBIA BRACKET
SERBIA 94, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 76
Serbia's quest to return to the Olympics got off to a good start.
Boban Marjanovic scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and the silver medalists from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games opened their Olympic Qualifying Tournament with a 94-76 win over the Dominican Republic.
The game was tied at 69-69 early in the fourth quarter; Serbia, which is playing host to the qualifier in Belgrade, outscored the Dominicans 25-7 the rest of the way.
"Of course, we're proud," Marjanovic said. "Everybody who comes here wants to make the Olympic Games, the main thing. Everybody's fighting for that spot, everybody plays tough, good, and I'm proud of my team because we didn't give up in this game."
Filip Petrusev scored 17 points and Vasilije Micic added 16 for Serbia.
"As expected, it was a difficult game," Serbia coach Igor Kokoskov said.
Michael Torres Cuevas and Victor Liz each had 16 points for the Dominican Republic.
Records: Serbia 1-0, Dominican Republic 0-1.
Up next: Serbia faces the Philippines on Wednesday, the Dominican Republic plays the Philippines on Thursday.
KAUNAS, LITHUANIA BRACKET
LITHUANIA 76, VENEZUELA 65
Jonas Valanciunas had 20 points on 8 of 9 shooting, plus grabbed 11 rebounds for Lithuania. Domantas Sabonis and Mantas Kalnietis each scored 12 for Lithuania, which closed the first half on an 8-0 run to break a tie and kept the lead the rest of the way. David Cubillan scored 11 points for Venezuela.
Records: Lithuania 1-0, Venezuela 0-1.
Up next: Venezuela faces Korea on Wednesday, Lithuania plays Korea on Thursday.
POLAND 83, ANGOLA 64
Mateusz Ponitka scored 22 points in 23 minutes, A.J. Slaughter added 16 and Poland had little trouble in its opener. Angola led 19-18 late in the opening quarter; Poland took control by scoring 28 of the game's next 40 points. Yanick Moreira had a game-high 27 points for Angola.
Records: Poland 1-0, Angola 0-1.
Up next: Angola faces Slovenia on Wednesday, Poland plays Slovenia on Thursday.
SPLIT, CROATIA BRACKET
GERMANY 82, MEXICO 76
Germany used an 18-3 run in the fourth quarter to pull off a come-from-behind win, forcing Mexico into 10 consecutive misses from the field during part of that stretch. Joshiko Saibou led the Germans with 17 points. Francisco Cruz led all scorers with 30 points for Mexico.
Records: Germany 1-0, Mexico 0-1.
Up next: Mexico faces Russia on Wednesday, Germany plays Russia on Thursday.
BRAZIL 83, TUNISIA 57
Vítor Benite scored 15 points and Brazil pulled away steadily over the final three quarters to an easy opening win. Oussama Marnaoui scored 13 for Tunisia. The game was tied 21-21 after the opening quarter, and Brazil outscored Tunisia 62-36 the rest of the way.
Records: Brazil 1-0, Tunisia 0-1.
Up next: Brazil faces Croatia on Wednesday, Tunisia plays Croatia on Thursday.