AUCKLAND (FIBA U19 World Championship) - Spain have survived a furious late rally from Canada to record an 82-75 victory and take second place in Group C of the FIBA U19 World Championship in New Zealand.
After scoring just 2 points in the first half, Canadian forward Mangisto Arop came to life to spark his team. Arop scored 12 points in just over four minutes surrounding three quarter time, bringing Canada from a 12-point deficit to within 3 in that time.
Remarkably, Canadian coach Greg Francis then rested his star for 5:29 as Spanish stars Perez and Alvaro Munoz made successive plays to push their team seven points clear with 1:35 remaining.
Arop re-entered the game and immediately hit a three pointer, his 15th point for the half. But Spain held their nerve and ran out 7-point winners.
Spain looked set for an easy victory early in the game when a pair of three pointers from Perez in the last 70 seconds of the first quarter gave Spain a handy 23-12 quarter time break.
But Canada forced their way back into the game with their significant height advantage, scoring 24 points in the paint to 14 and taking a 20-10 rebounding advantage into half time.
Their leading scorers were Arop (17 points) and forwards Marc Trasolini (14 points, 8 rebounds) and Tristan Thompson (12 points, 6 rebounds).
Perez was outstanding for Spain, nailing 5 three-pointers on his way to 29 points. Shooting guard Jorge Santana finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, and centre Toni Vicens recorded 14 points and 5 boards.
Canada and Spain now move into Group F for the second round and will face Croatia, Argentina and the winner of New Zealand and Kazakhstan between Monday and Wednesday.
Greg Francis, Canada coach :
“We fought back, but at this level, if you get yourselves in a hole it is so hard to dig your way back.
They gave it everything they had out there and they came up a couple of shots short. Now we have to come out harder in the next round because we are behind the eight-ball.
They shot the ball pretty well, especially early in the game and I though Perez was very hard to deal with the whole game long.”