Canada Earns Bronze Medal With 86-83 Overtime Victory Over Argentina
June 30, 2010 • San Antonio, Texas
Kyle Wiltjer hit a 3-pointer with less than two seconds left in overtime as Canada won the bronze medal Wednesday of the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men, edging Argentina 86-83 at Bill Greehey Arena in San Antonio, Texas.
“We were just really tired and wanted to get it done, and it was really good to win,” said Wiltjer. “I just wanted to go out with a bang, definitely wanted to bring home the bronze medal.”
“It’s a great feeling,” said Canada head coach Greg Francis. “These guys battled Argentina, and for these guys to make a lot of shots it was not an easy game, and I am really proud they fought the way they did. It’s been a big learning experience for these guys. They were tough games and I’m really happy these guys were able to play well and show it all. This will help us qualify for worlds and get a medal.”
Wiltjer scored seven of his team-high 27 points in the OT period, as Canada upset the 2008 gold medalist Argentina. He shot 9-12 from the field and sank 5-6 in 3-point range.
Down 27-34 at halftime, and 45-52 after three periods, Canada went on a 9-0 run in the fourth to lead 64-61. Argentina sank two sets of free throws and retook the lead, 65-64, at 2:13. Canada’s Julian Clarke gave his team a 71-67 advantage with a 3-point bucket. Argentina’s Juan Jose Giaveno made two free throws, and Marcos Delia hit a layup as the game was tied at 71-71 after regulation. Argentina took an 81-81 lead in OT on a layup by Carlos Paredes at 1:20. But Clarke made a two-point basket, followed by Wiltjer’s trey, as Canada took home the bronze.
Myck Kabongo of Canada, who has committed to Texas, scored 15 points and dished out 12 assists, including the one that led to the game winner. Clarke accounted for 15 points, hitting 4-5, all in 3-point range. Kevin Thomas registered a game-high 10 rebounds, while scoring nine points.
“After I grabbed the rebound, I saw time was clicking off, and all game they had been crushing in on me and I had been forcing shots a bit today,” said Kabongo. “I figured that they were going to be there, and I saw Kyle [Wiltjer] was hot down the stretch and made a lot of big shots, so what better way was there than to get Kyle the ball to finish the game for us, cause he really pulled us through this game.”
Paredes scored a game-high 28 points, shooting 9-16 from the field and making 6-11 beyond the arc. He also pulled in a team-best eight rebounds. Delia had 11 points and seven rebounds, while Fernando Podesta and Pablo Perez each scored 10. Giaveno produced nine assists and four points.
Canada shot 47 percent (27-58) from the field, and 45 percent (10-22) in 3-point territory. Argentina hit 41 percent (29-71) of its shots, and 35 percent (9-26) of 3-point baskets. Canada held a slight 36-32 edge in rebounds.
“Myck really set the table for us at all times,” added Francis.”I think it was a tough game and we did not get a lot of easy scores. But he found Julian Clark who was hot and had not played a lot due to injury, he found him for fourteen points and three’s off the bench. Then he knows Kyle Wiltjer is his guy, and when he saw they had to react to Myck, he started finding him. I just think Myck was a catalyst for getting us this win, especially when it was tough.”
“(Overtime) was a tight one, as coaches we try to be cool and blah blah blah but we are all ex-players and we are jumping up, we were going to get a tech for going on the floor or something,” said Francis as he recalled the overtime period. “I thought my big coach was going to run out and set a screen or something, but it all worked out. The guys have a great feeling, and for the whole staff it is a great way to end the tournament.”
“I feel great we got a medal,” said Kabongo. “Our country is going to be proud of us, and that’s the most important part. We underachieved from what we wanted but at least we got a medal. It’s going to be a better plane ride back home. It’s not going to be all sad and droopy. I can listen to more upbeat music now, not the slow jams. All the world teams FIBA did a great job this year, great teams and the best competition and now I see I gotta go home and work on a lot of stuff. It’s great just seeing where my game is at.
“I had a bad game but my teammates always lift me up, that’s the best part about it,” he added. “I have the best teammates in the world and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. It showed today that I have the best teammates ever because they closed it out for me even when I was having a bad day.”