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RJ Barrett & Team Canada Knock Spain Out Of FIBA World Cup Competition

And punch their ticket for Paris, too

BASKET-WC-2023-CAN-LAT
Canada’s RJ Barrett (R) attempts to dunk the ball as Latvia’s Andrejs Grazulis defends during the FIBA Basketball World Cup group H match between Canada and Latvia at the Indonesia Arena in Jakarta on August 29, 2023.
Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images

After Brazil upset Canada, Canadian coach Jordi Fernandez was not happy with the play of former Duke Blue Devil RJ Barrett, and he didn’t hesitate to say so: “RJ has to run the floor and score efficiently and defend, and he didn’t.”

It wasn’t just Barrett - he spoke about some other guys too: “It’s not about pointing any of these guys. They’ve been amazing. They’ve worked really hard. They’ve competed at a high level. We’ve had one bad game right now. We own it. We watch it. We learn from it. And we’re gonna come out really, really aggressive and ready to fight the next game. That’s how life is.”

Well, Barrett and his Canadian teammates did play better, knocking Spain out of contention, 88-85.

Not that it was easy.

Whoever lost this game wasn't going to advance, and keep in mind that Spain is the top ranked team in the world - or at least was.

Canada was down by 12 in the third but held Spain to a total of 12 points in the fourth. The oft-maligned Dillon Brooks, who was laughed out of Memphis after his ridiculous trash talking against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, talk which he could not back up.

He played well against Spain as did Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who ripped off 11 points in the last 1:51 of the fourth to help nail down the win.

And so, for that matter, did Barrett: he shot 6-12 for 16 points, hitting four of his first five shot and scoring 11 of Canada’s first quarter points. He also grabbed five boards. With Canada now qualified for the Paris Olympics, Barrett gets the rare father-son duos to chase a gold medal as his father, Rowan, was on the 2000 Canadian team.