Monday June 15 2009 – 12:17pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)

We give a lot (A LOT) of love to the Juniors in hockey, so why not highlight our young men in BASKETBALL too. 

Check out the following release for some big news for Canada’s Junior Men’s Basketball Team: 

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DOUAI, France – Canada’s Junior Men finished in first place at the 23rd Annual Mondial Juniors de Basket, one of Europe’s premier basketball tournaments. Canada had two big wins over France and Puerto Rico, following a loss to Australia on the first day. A strong win Sunday over Lithuania coupled with the U.S. win over host team France, guaranteed the title for the red and white.

“Our guys really played hard throughout the tournament,” said Greg Francis, Head Coach for the Junior Men’s National Team and the National Elite Development Academy (NEDA). “This is such a great win for our team and the experience of playing tough countries outside our zone will go a long way in helping our guys prepare for the FIBA World Championship next month.”

Along with the first-place hardware, Canadian forward Kelly Olynyk also earned two trophies — for All-Star forward and tournament MVP. The Kamloops, B.C., native also plays under Francis as a member of Canada Basketball’s NEDA program.

After a tough 92-83 loss on Saturday to the U.S., Canada came out and conquered as the team beat Lithuania 86-78 to close out the event. With a 3-2 record overall, Canada won the championship of this prestigious European event that has in the past seen the likes of Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Luol Deng and Andrei Kirilenko to name a few.

Canada 86 Lithuania 78

It was a rainy Sunday morning as Canada’s Junior National Team hopefuls suited up to play the Lithuanian Junior National Team. On this, the final day of the tournament, Canada was in second place with a 2-2 record (along with Australia, Puerto Rico and Lithuania), France was leading at 3-1, while the U.S. sat in last place with a 1-3 record.

St. Bruno, Que., guard Laurent Rivard led the Canadians against Lithuania with 20 points, followed by NEDA’s Olynyk (17 points, 7 rebounds, and four assists), Ty Nurse (15 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists) and Mike Allison (11 points, 6 rebounds). Lithuania’s shooting expert Gediminas Orelikas led all scorers with 22 points, adding five rebounds and one assist, while 2010 NBA draft lottery prospect Donatas Motiejunas was held to only nine points.

The Lithuanians began the match with an 8-0 run, but Canada pulled back to within four, 14-10, after a pair of threes by the Robs (Dewar & Gagliardi). Forward Mike Allison’s three-pointer over top of Motiejunas brought the game to 23-19 with less than two minutes remaining, but missed rebounds on both ends of the court by Canada allowed Lithuania to finish the quarter strong 28-19.

The second quarter belonged to Canada’s Rivard who gathered two steals, a deuce and a trey, tying the game with 7:30 remaining. Canada’s adjustments on the boards changed the flow of the game in their favour. Lithuania’s Motiejunas had to sit after collecting three early fouls.

Two rebounds by Dewar and buckets by Rivard and Nurse gave Canada the lead (36-35) for the first time in the game with three minutes remaining. A dunk by Olynyk followed by Dewar’s block and a Rivard bucket had the entire team off the bench cheering as the Canadians pulled away 42-35. After a timeout, Nurse scored a triple and Olynyk followed with a high-flying dunk to end the quarter 28-9, with Canada up ten (47-37).

Canada opened the third with two buckets and block by Dewar to take it to 51-39. Nurse followed with a steal and easy layup by Olynyk. Although Motiejunas answered with a deuce, he saw limited time in the third.

With five minutes remaining Lithuania pulled to within seven (55-48), due to strong efforts by centre Tautvydas Slezas. Canada’s Rivard continued to command the floor with a three-pointer and a bucket, and the Canadians led 62-53 at the end of the third quarter.

Olynyk hit a deuce to start the fourth, but Lithuania answered with two buckets of their own. Canada then responded with two three-pointers by guards Nurse and Simon Bibeau, followed by an and-1 by Allison to take it to 75-60 with seven minutes left. Litunania’s Orelikas continued his shooting show (2nd place in the three-point shootout) to bring the game to 82-69. Despite a full-court press by Lithuania, Canada held on to win 86-78.

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