JAKARTA (Indonesia) – Canada dazzled their way to an eye-popping 30-point victory over powerhouse France, 95-65 to state their intentions on the opening day.
12,091 fans packed into Indonesia Arena to witness an early clash of the titans in Group H, but Canada stole the spoils with a sensational display to open their FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 campaign in style.
Turning point: There was little separation between the two teams at half-time – with seven lead changes as Canada held a three-point lead. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander got going in the third quarter by scoring 13 points in the frame, helping his side pull out to a 20-point lead as they kept their opponents to just eight points.
TCL Player of the Game: Gilgeous-Alexander sparked Canada’s big first win with 27 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals on 9-of-19 shooting from the field. He became the first player to combine for 20+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists in his debut game at the World Cup over the last 30 years.
The star guard took over in the second half to fuel an impressive performance and put Canada in the early driving seat for a place in the Second Round.
Evan Fournier led the way for France with a team-high 21 points, though 19 of those points had come in a promising first half which failed to flourish.
Stats don’t lie: There was a 16-point differential (18-2) in points off turnovers and Canada limited France to 10-of-31 shooting in the second half; outscoring them 52-25 to complete what turned into a dominant victory.
Bottom line: Canada begin their World Cup with a huge win as their talented roster delivered to fuel those hopes of a first-ever podium finish. They return to action on August 27 with a chance to continue their momentum as they go up against Lebanon.
France, meanwhile, will need to bounce back quickly after suffering their heaviest World Cup defeat since 1963. Another poor showing could spell an early end to their campaign with a red-hot Latvia side gunning for an upset in Sunday’s showdown.
They said: “It was an awful game for us. After the first half, we were in the game. I think we could do a little better playing inside. It was still a game. But we started very bad at the start of the second half, and as soon as they got a lead, we disappeared completely in the last 15 minutes.” – Vincent Collet, France head coach
“They were really physical with us, taking us out of our set plays. They forced us to do things we didn’t want to do. As the game went on, they kept applying pressure and it just got the best of us. The second quarter was the beginning of the fall down. So, congrats to them – they played a good game.” – Evan Fournier, France
“We did what we came here to do. It’s still only one game, we’ve got a lot still to accomplish, but it’s a good start. We played really good basketball, we did the right things on both ends of the court for the most part. We know we can beat and play with anyone in the world. We just have to continue to get better and the sky’s the limit.” – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Canada
“In the second half, our pressure and physicality and when shots started to fall that’s what helped. It’s only one win and this is a long tournament. We’ve been working really hard and we’re here to show everybody our identity and what we’re built for.” – Jordi Fernandez, Canada head coach