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Canada routs Chile in World Cup qualifier in St. John's

Jeff Parsons/Basketball Canada - Canada’s Kaza Kajami-Keane goes in for a layup during play in a FIBA 2019 Basketball World Cup Americas Qualifying game against Chile Thursday night at Mile One Centre. Canada won the game 85-46.
Jeff Parsons/Canada Basketball - Canada’s Kaza Kajami-Keane goes in for a layup during play in a FIBA 2019 Basketball World Cup Americas Qualifying game against Chile Thursday night at Mile One Centre. Canada won the game 85-46. - Contributed

Canadian senior men's squad now prepares for final qualifying game Sunday against Venezuela at Mile One

Canada improved to 9-2 in the FIBA 2019 Basketball World Cup Americas Qualifiers with an 85-46 win over Chile Thursday night at Mile One Centre.

Brady Heslip led the way with a game-high 14 points for Canada. Kyle Wiltjer dominated in the paint with 12 points and 14 rebounds, while Melvin Ejim chipped in with 12 points to go along with nine rebounds.

It was an all-around team effort as all 12 Canadians registered at least one bucket in the win. Sebastian Herrera lead Chile with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists.

The Canadians started off strong, holding Chile to just nine points after the opening quarter. Chile managed to show more signs of life on the offensive end in the second quarter, but Canada still outscored them 18-12 in the frame and took a 34-21 lead into halftime.

“In the first half,” said Heslip, “we just weren’t as intense as we needed to be. We didn’t play with enough energy so coach just reminded the guys that you only get so many opportunities to play in front of Canadian fans.

“We didn’t want to let them down and not play with energy so we just came out with a big second half and took care of business.”

“The tempo started to change in the second half,” said Canadian coach Roy Rana. “We had an okay second quarter and made a couple threes. Brady and Kyle got hot a little bit and Phil started getting to the rim. That’s when shots started falling and we loosened up and started to have some fun.”

Canada’s final game of the Americas Qualifiers is 4 p.m. Sunday at Mile One Centre against Venezuela.

Canada defeated Brazil 94-67 back in December to qualify for the World Cup, which will be Canada’s 14th appearance in the event.

The World Cup, which runs Aug. 31-Sept. 15 in China, will be the biggest edition of FIBA's flagship event with a record 32 participating teams playing 92 games over 16 days.

For the first time, the FIBA Basketball World Cup will qualify seven teams directly for the following year's Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

- with files from Canada Basketball

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