Canada’s men’s basketball team dropped an 81-73 decision to Australia in the second World Cup tuneup meeting between the two teams on Saturday.
Orlando Magic forward Khem Birch scored 18 points to lead the Canadians, while Oshae Brissett had 14 points and Kaza Kajami-Keane scored 11. Melvin Ejim had nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Jock Landale led the Australian Boomers with 13 points while Jonah Bolden had 12.
The Canadians trounced Australia 90-70 in the opening game of the exhibition series on Friday.
“I thought it was very positive for us, these two games,” associate head coach Gordie Herbert said. “I thought we played extremely well. We competed. We played as a team. [Friday] night, obviously we shot the ball better from three-point land, but overall I thought it was a very positive two days for us.”
The Canadians led by as many as nine points in the third quarter Saturday, but trailed 60-59 heading into the fourth. Then they went ice cold, going 2-for-10 from the field in the early minutes as Australia went up by nine.
Canada pulled to within three with 3:30 to play on six straight points from Birch, but that was as close as the Canadians would come down the stretch.
“I think we showed a lot of character in these last couple of games,” Melvin Ejim said. “We played really tough. This is a great Australia team, they have a lot of great players that are going to do very well, but I thought we showed promise, we showed we have the ability to compete no matter who we put on the floor.”
Barcelona guard Kevin Pangos sat out Saturday’s game.
Canada tips off the World Cup against Australia on Sept. 1 in China.
— Canada Basketball (@CanBball) August 17, 2019
Canada goes into the World Cup without most of their NBA stars. Miami Heat’s Kelly Olynyk became the latest big-name player to pull out after sustaining a knee injury. He joined Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray, R.J. Barrett, Tristan Thompson, Dwight Powell, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as other top Canadian NBA players to miss the World Cup.
Sacramento Kings point guard Cory Joseph isn’t in Australia, but could rejoin the team for the World Cup.
The Canadians will play New Zealand in a pair of exhibition games on Tuesday and Wednesday before wrapping up its pre-tournament schedule against the United States on Aug. 26
The Australian Boomers host the Americans in a pair of games next week.