Canada fight off feisty Crocs at U17 World Cup

Australia pushed a talented Canadian side all the way before succumbing to a narrow 4 point loss in the quarterfinals of the 2018 FIBA Under-17 World Cup in Argentina.

Using their trademark defence to great effect, the Crocs managed to stay with the unbeaten Canada throughout the game. However Canada's depth and more efficient scoring saw them hold on for a 70-74 victory to advance to the medal rounds, while the Aussies will not play off for positions 5-8.

Western Australian 'long-haired Luke's' Jackson and Travers were again the stars of the game for the Crocs. Travers poured in a game-high 20 points on 9-15 shooting with 6 rebounds and 2 assists, while Jackson added 12 points and an amazing 20 rebounds to help keep Australia in the contest right to the end.

In the opening term, both teams traded buckets throughout. Kobe Williamson was seemingly involved in every possession at both ends, as Travers delivered an early dunk which was followed by a Wani Swaka Lo Buluk three-pointer to ensure the Crocs stayed in touch with the Canadian's. Australia would miss 9 straight shots across the final 4 minutes of the quarter before Williamson was fed by Travers for the lay-up late, but Canada returned fire at the end to take a 6 point advantage into the first break.

Despite committing a shot clock violation to open the second period, Tamuri Wigness threatened to take over the game. The electric guard was able to get into the paint for consecutive baskets while also drawing fouls from the opposition. When Wigness found Jackson open for the score inside, the Crocs had taken the lead. Unfortunately for the Australian's, they were misfiring from beyond the three-point arc that saw their opponents pull away by 8. Yet a three-point play by Joel Capetola which was quickly followed by a Jay Rantall triple, saw the Aussies close up the margin to just 2 at half time.

Wani Swaka Lo Buluk | Credit: FIBA

Jackson opened the third period with a blocked shot at one end and then a lay-up at the other, ensuring the Canadian advantage was quickly extinguished. Wigness was threatening, but could not find a way for his scoring chances to drop, with Jackson and Williamson combining to put Australia back in front. While Lo Buluk drained a three-pointer, the scoring started to dry up once again in a contest that was becoming an arm wrestle. A trey from Canadian star Addison Patterson enabled his country to retake the lead, and when he followed up with a dunk not long after it sparked a 6-0 run to open up a 7 point lead. A savvy play by Travers saw him head to the line late where he made both, but it was Canada up by 5 at the last change.

The Crocs scored the first 4 points of the final quarter courtesy of Travers and then Wigness, forcing the Canadian's to call a timeout. They immediately responded with a three-pointer through Cashius McNeilly. Consecutive turnovers by Wigness resulted in a McNeilly lay-up, but Travers again stepped up with the big plays. Travers scored 6 straight points to tie the game up at 55-all. However Canada responded with a 6-0 run of their own to wrestle back control.

A dagger three-pointer by Patterson pushed the Canadian lead out to 8 with less than 2 minutes to play. As they had done all game, Australia fought back. Travers scored a dunk following an offensive rebound, while Wigness stole the ball and fed Lo Buluk for the quick two on the next play. Lo Buluk backed up with a further two made free throws to close the margin to just 2 with 53 seconds remaining. A missed three-pointer by Lo Buluk, if made, would have seen Australia take the lead. However Canada scored twice before a Travers basket just before time expired saw Canada prevail by 4 points.

Lo Buluk finished with 12 points, Williamson added 10 points and 8 rebounds, while Wigness finished with 9 points, 4 assists and 4 steals. For Canada who advance to the semifinals, Patterson compiled 18 points and McNeilly 11.

Australia were restricted to 33% shooting from the field, while Canada shot at 47% while generating 35 points off the bench compared to just 7 points from the Crocs reserves. The Aussies won the rebounding count 47-39, owning a massive 16-3 offensive rebound advantage which they converted into 18 points. Having struggled with taking care of the ball, Australia limited their turnovers to 16 turnovers while forcing 19 on Canada.

Canada goes on to face the winner of the USA versus Croatia game for a chance to play for gold, with Australia taking on the loser and a chance to finish as high as 5th on Sunday morning Australian time.

Box Score

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1 July: Australia defeated Dominican Republic 73-71 2 July: Australia lost to Turkey 79-81 4 July: Australia defeated Puerto Rico 68-66 5 July: Round of 16: Australia defeated Mali 74-65 7 July: Quarter-Finals: Australia lost to Canada 70-74 8 July: Playoff for 5-8: 9 July: Final Position Playoffs 5-8

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