England’s medal ambitions at the 2018 Commonwealth Games have been dashed in Cairns after Canada clinched a 97-79 victory in the quarter-finals.
Entering the knockout phase of the competition, Andreas Kapoulas’ men will be left pondering what could have been after being eliminated from the tournament off the back of a first-half scoring spree from Canada who now advance to the medal rounds to face New Zealand.
Shooting an incredible 72% from the field during the opening quarter, Canada appeared as if they could not miss, while their defensive pressure at the opposite end also forced seven turnovers.
While Orlan Jackman (six points, four rebounds and two assist) made a positive start as he crashed the boards to secure England’s first points of the game and then ripped a ball at the rim moments later, Canada converted on their first five shots of the contest to open up a quick fire double-digit lead.
“I don’t think we came out with urgency in the first quarter,” star guard Kofi Josephs said. “They opened up a big lead and then for the rest of the game we were just fighting back. I mean, we tried hard, but I think the gap was too big to close.”
Trailing 9-25 midway through the opening term, Jamell Anderson (six points) curled off an inbounds set play to splash a triple.
An 11-0 run to Canada either side of the quarter-time break, however, would prove a mountain too high to climb as England failed to reduce the lead to single figures at any further stage in the game.
With Canada’s lead stretching beyond 20 early in the second quarter, Josephs (20 points and eight rebounds) was fouled on the three-point line and knocked down each attempt before a nice assist from Adam Thoseby found Shane Walker on the baseline for more points.
The trio provided most of England’s offensive output in the second half as Thoseby (20 points and four assists) lit up from the perimeter, while Walker (13 points and six rebounds) was able to cause issues inside and out.
"It’s a big stage for a lot of these guys, they’ve never played in an arena like this in front of this many fans and this level and this type of competition, I think at the start some of the guys were a bit overwhelmed with everything going on,” Thoseby said. “I was feeling it too and it didn’t come together like we had been at the start."
A leaner from Mike Tuck (six points and two rebounds) late in the third quarter saw the margin reduced to 16, but Canada arrested the momentum before three-quarter-time to stretch the lead to 77-58 at the final change.
Any hopes of a 4th quarter comeback were resisted at every turn as Canada advanced to the final four with a clinical display.
Conor Morgan led from the front with a game-high 24 points, while Ammanuel Diressa (18 points), Munis Tutu (16 points), Justus Alleyn (12 points) and Mamadou Gueye (12 points) all finished in double digits.
"(England) was a team that we felt we could really match up well with,” Morgan said. “I think we’re starting to peak at the right time, and that’s the most important thing."
While England clinched the final quarter 21-20 – having taken the third 32-22 – it would provide little solace for Kapoulas and his team after being outgunned during the opening half.