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Kyle Wiltjer, Canada Eliminated From FIBA World Cup

(Photo via @CanBball)

(Photo via @CanBball)

The Canadians were missing the majority of its superstar players and it resulted in an early exit from the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

Behind a team-high 24 points from former Kentucky forward Kyle Wiltjer, Canada lost game two of its group stage play to Lithuania by a score of 92-69. This comes two days after they fell in the opener to Australia, 108-92.

Without stud NBA presences from Canadian natives and former Wildcats Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Trey Lyles along with other absent pieces such as Andrew Wiggins, RJ Barrett, and Tristan Thompson, Canada entered the tournament with a massive talent gap compared to the other members of its group.

Canada (who is ranked 23rd overall, according to FIBA) was also placed in Group H with two of the world’s top teams, Lithuania (ranked No. 6) and Australia (ranked No. 11), which surely didn’t help the cause. The team’s final group play game comes against Senegal (ranked No. 37), although both teams have officially been eliminated from further contention in the tournament.

Australia and Lithuania have both won its games against Canada and Senegal, moving them each to 2-0 and onto the second round no matter what happens when they play on Sept. 5.

Mirroring a similar situation that team USA is in, Canada’s lack of star power led to players like Wiltjer earning plenty of (somewhat unexpected) playing time. Despite a losing effort, the sharpshooter excelled in the role for his country.

After adding only six points and three rebounds in 20 minutes against the Australians, Wiltjer poured in 24 points on 7-11 shooting, including a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc against Lithuania. He was easily Canada’s best player during game two, but couldn’t get it done himself, especially against quality NBA bigs such as Jonas Valanciunas (Grizzlies) and Domantas Sabonis (Pacers).

“Obviously not the outcome our team wanted, so we have to learn from it, this isn’t the end of the tournament,” Wiltjer said. “So we’ve just got to continue to be positive as a program and just continue to work.”

Wiltjer currently plays his professional basketball in Turkey as a member of Türk Telekom.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

6 Comments for Kyle Wiltjer, Canada Eliminated From FIBA World Cup

  1. Skeeter Valentine
    8:44 pm September 3, 2019 Permalink

    Former Cat Eloy Vargas and the Dominican Republic advance to the second round after wins against Jordan and Germany in Group G. Eloy put up 12pts/ 6rbs and 16pts/5 rbs in those games, respectively.

    • Cousins Fake Tooth
      9:04 pm September 3, 2019 Permalink

      Much rather hear about a player that didn’t decide he didn’t want to be here and go to a different school like the article.

    • UKFanSC
      8:25 am September 4, 2019 Permalink


  2. JASUN74
    9:03 pm September 3, 2019 Permalink

    Just wondering Zack, you say they’re eliminated, wonder why he says “this isn’t the end of the tournament, and we need to stay positive and continue to work”?? Are they actually eliminated, or do they just not know they are? Lol. Sorry, but I just found that to be puzzling. Thanks bud.

    • ClutchCargo
      12:45 am September 4, 2019 Permalink

      Basically a consolation game coming up. They can’t actually advance and have a chance to win the tournament now.

  3. UKFanSC
    8:24 am September 4, 2019 Permalink

    Can we finally put Kyle and his ilk into the dustbin of Wildcat history. The pathetic exploits of a guy who left the program to play for another school has run its course.