In Canada’s penultimate pre-FIBA World Cup game, former Kentucky forward Kyle Wiltjer poured in 18 points – including 11 in overtime – to help lead his country to a 103-100 overtime victory against New Zealand.
This was the second straight win for Canada over New Zealand in as many days (Canada crushed New Zealand 122-88 on Tuesday) and our neighbors up north now post a record of 4-2 in exhibition play, with the final game coming against the United States on Monday, Aug. 26.
Wiltjer actually had a chance to win the game in regulation after a beautifully drawn up play that found the sharpshooter wide-open in the corner, although the shot barely rimmed out.
another simple set, but very effective. pangos screens for wiltjer, which allows wiltjer to establish deep post position for the finish pic.twitter.com/QCuf7nsnCD
— William Lou (@william_lou) August 21, 2019
Scoring double-digits in the extra period sure did make up for that miss, though. Wiltjer also added five rebounds, two steals, and a block to his stat line.
The Canadians – much like the United States – have been decimated by its star players opting out of the tournament. NBA studs such as Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tristan Thompson, RJ Barrett, Andrew Wiggins, and several others decided to stay home for the summer in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season.
Orlando Magic center Khem Birch is currently the only NBA player on the roster, although Sacramento Kings guard Cory Joseph is expected to make the final trip to China once the tournament officially begins.
While Canada is lacking star power, it has in turn provided plenty of opportunities for Wiltjer and he’s been capitalizing on all of them. Check out the second half and overtime highlights.
Second Half + OT Highlights ? pic.twitter.com/9N81NKLkwG
— Canada Basketball (@CanBball) August 21, 2019
Canada will open it’s FIBA World Cup journey on Sept. 1 when they take on Australia in China.