LAVAL, QUE.—Kelly Olynyk had 20 points and 18 rebounds to lift Canada to a 85-77 victory over Brazil to open the second round of World Cup qualifying on Thursday.
Cory Joseph added 16 and 10 assists, while Tristan Thompson grabbed 12 boards. Kevin Pangos had 10 points and eight assists.
Canada (6-1) and Venezuela, which improved to 6-1 with an 84-69 win over the U.S. Virgin Islands, share the top spot in Group F, while Brazil dropped to 5-2.
Canada’s road to the 2019 World Cup is about to get significantly tougher. Coach Roy Rana won’t have any NBA players — Olynyk, Thompson, Joseph, Justin Jackson and Khem Birch played Thursday — nor Barcelona FC guard Pangos for the team’s final five World Cup qualifying games.
The Canadians make a 19-hour trek to Valdivia, Chile, for a sold-out game against the Chileans on Monday, and with NBA training camps just a week away, none of Canada’s NBA players, nor Pangos, who must return to FC Barcelona, are expected to make the trip.
In front of a half-full Place Bell arena on Thursday, the Canadians took a 22-19 lead into the second quarter.
A scary moment late in the first saw Birch scratched in the right eye by a driving Barbosa. Birch was very slow to get up before being helped off the court. He didn’t play the rest of the game.