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Canada settles for silver after 113-74 loss to U.S. at U18 Americas tournament

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — Before Saturday's tipoff of the gold-medal game, the U.S. basketball team watched highlights of Canada's historic victory over the Americans at last summer's under-19 world championships.

Then the Americans exacted some revenge — a 113-74 thumping of Canada to claim their fifth consecutive FIBA Americas U18 title.

"Probably hungry, lots of revenge, and just trying to kill us in every aspect of the game. And they came out and pretty much did that," summed up Andrew Nembhard.

A.J. Lawson had 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Nembhard had 12 points and eight assists, but seven turnovers. Tyrese Samuel chipped in with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Emanuel Miller and Addison Patterson had 11 points apiece.

But the Canadians were barely in the game after the first quarter. Trailing 29-20 after one, it was all but over when the Canadians headed into the halftime dressing room in a 61-33 hole.

"I feel like as a group we were just nervous," said Nembhard, who will play for Florida next year. "I feel like next year (U19 World Cup), we'll have those jitters out and be more successful against them."

They trailed by as many as 33 points in the third quarter, and went into the fourth down 84-52 in front of a crowd of 4,240 fans at the Meridian Centre, which is normally home to the OHL's Niagara IceDogs.

Cole Anthony topped the U.S. with 18 points.

The Canadians had already earned their spot in next summer's FIBA U19 World Cup by finishing in the top four in the tournament.

"We had a good week, we did some good things," said coach Dave Smart, who's also Carleton's head coach. "It's the first time for a lot of these guys, and sometimes when it's the first time, sometimes when things go much differently than you're used to, it's hard to get back on track and understand how to get back on track." 

Canada captured an historic gold at last summer's World Cup in Cairo, shocking the Americans in the semifinals, and earning Canada's first-ever world title in the sport.

Smart believes Saturday's ugly loss will help his young team next summer.

"It stinks when it's happening, but it's how you respond to it," he said.

R.J. Barrett, who earned tournament MVP honours in leading the Canadians in Egypt, sat courtside at Saturday's game. Barrett, who's heading to Duke in the fall, wasn't available to play for Canada as he spent a few weeks training in Los Angeles.

The Americans, coached by Kansas coach Bill Self, had been the class of the field in St. Catharines, outscoring their opponents by a combined 338-170 in the preliminary round, including a 118-26 rout of Panama that began with an ugly 45-0 run.

Jay Triano, head coach of Canada's senior men's team, watched the week's action and St. Catharines, and said the one Canadian weakness is shooting.

"I like where are," Triano said. "We still need to get better at shooting the ball, we don't shoot the ball real well, the other teams have shot better from three all week. We're not as big a threat on the perimeter.

"Guys get better as they get older but some of these other countries are better than us shooting, but they're not ahead of us in athleticism and the way we play, the pace that we play."

The Canadians shot just 32 per cent from the field.

"We have so many good players in our country now, you go into a gym and there's always good players. But it takes a lot of individual time to be a great shooter. Even the great players Kobe, Durant, Steph Curry, they spend a lot of time shooting the ball to hone that skill."

Argentina beat Puerto Rico 87-79 earlier for bronze.

The Canadians beat Puerto Rico 95-89 to earn their spot in the final, while the Americans topped Argentina 104-92.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

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