Things did not start out well for Team Canada in the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup.
Lithuania got out of the gate faster and eventually built up a 14 point lead late in the third quarter, but the guys from up north, including Marquette’s very own Olivier-Maxence Prosper battled back. By the final horn, it was 80-71, with Canada getting the Group A win.
The hero of the day for the Canadians was incoming Creighton freshman Ryan Nembhard. He scored 12 of his 18 points in the final three minutes of the game to help Canada pull away late after holding a 65-64 lead when Nembhard starting going off.
Things were at their most dire for Canada when Lithuania’s Azuolas Tubelis cashed in an and-1 for three of his game-high 32 points with 3:14 left to go in the third quarter. That made it 53-39 in favor of the Europeans, which is definitely not the place that the #2 team in FIBA’s rankings coming into the tournament wanted to be.
A dunk by Nana Owusu-Anane got Canada going, and his layup with seven second left in the quarter made it 55-51 heading into the fourth quarter. Yep, that’s a 12-2 run by Canada to get back into this game, and two buckets by Elijah Fisher to start out the final frame knotted things up at 55 with 8:43 to go. The game was no more than a bucket one way or another until it was Nembhard Time, although it was a jumper by Caleb Houstan who gave the Canadians the lead for good with 3:15 to go.
But enough about the other guys, we’re here to talk about O-Max since we don’t know all that much about him after transferring from Clemson to Marquette. Personally, I think it’s a pretty big deal that he started for head coach Paul Weir right out the gate. Prosper played just under 20 minutes in this 40 minute game, and finished with seven points, two rebounds, an assist, and a steal. He went 3-for-5 from the field and split his two long range attempts. We’ll see how things go down the road in the tournament as far as playing time goes as FIBA’s boxscore says he was a -9 in the game.
Here’s the official FIBA highlight package from the game. Keep your eyes open for #8 in white.
Up Next: It’s a quick turnaround for Prosper and Team Canada. They’ll be back in action with an earlier start tomorrow against Japan. Senegal knocked off Japan, 76-71, in the other half of Group A’s first day of action. Tipoff is set for 4am Central Time, and you can stream that game right here.