A productive offseason for New York Knicks’ RJ Barrett continued on Tuesday as the Toronto native helped to lead Canada past Latvia to advance to the second round of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Barrett and his teammates are on pace to make history for their home country this summer.
Canada found itself in a 10-digit deficit at the end of the first quarter, 23-13, but still managed to win by 26 points, 101-75. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Canada with 27 points, 19 of which came in the second half. Barrett was the team’s second-highest scorer with 22 points on good efficiency as he shot 9-of-14 from the field and 4-of-6 from three.
The hard-fought victory kept Canada atop Group H as the team finished 3-0 in group play. Canada will now be in Group L with Spain, Latvia, and the winner between Brazil and Ivory Coast, and they’ll have to finish in the top two to advance to the quarterfinals.
Knicks’ RJ Barrett drops 22 points to help lead Canada to second round of World Cup
Given how RJ Barrett and Canada have been playing, the team should be able to secure a top-two Group L finish. It’s becoming more likely that Canada and the United States (who will play again on Wednesday) will meet either in the semifinals or finals, which would be perfect for Knicks fans.
Canada had a stacked roster entering exhibition play, including 2023 NBA Champion Jamal Murray. He was at training camp but withdrew from the World Cup, citing a need for additional recovery after the NBA Finals run. Even without one of the top names in the NBA, Canada has been on a hot streak, led by Gilgeous-Alexander.
Canada is on track to secure its first men’s podium finish at the World Cup, but the job isn’t yet done. RJ Barrett could etch his name in the history books, and next up is Canada’s game on Friday in Jakarta.