Globl Jam Basketball: Canada beats France to win gold


Aaliyah Edwards gave fans high-fives and posed for photos as she left the court at the Mattamy Athletic Center with her teammates on Sunday, clutching her tournament MVP trophy.

Canada had easily defeated France 78-60 moments earlier in the first Globl Jam tournament.

Heralded as a bridge between national youth and senior programs as well as a rare opportunity for Canadians to play basketball at home, the U23 tournament was also a coming-out party of sorts for Edwards and rising women stars Merissah Russell, Shaina Pellington and Shy Day-Wilson.

“It was incredible,” said Edwards. “It was great to have a lot of community… just coming out to watch women’s basketball. Women’s basketball is growing here in Canada and it’s great that people are coming out to see what we’ve got, we can be dominant and we can be aggressive on the court.

“I’ve been talking to (friends and family) about how good I am so they can actually see how good I am personally, it’s great,” she added, laughing.

Day-Wilson had 19 points and nine assists, while Connecticut Huskies forward Edwards added 13 points and seven rebounds. Russell, a Louisville forward, contributed 11 points while Arizona guard Pellington finished with 10 points.

“It’s great for us college players to actually be able to play at home because people are used to finding a (broadcast) stream or a link to see us in the States,” said Edwards, the one had turned 20 the day before. “So it’s great to have real home field advantage and to feel the love.”

Baylor University, which represents the United States, lost to Brazil 77-73 in Sunday night’s men’s final after beating Canada 93-87 on Saturday.

Yago Dos Santos led Brazil with 30 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in the gold medal finals, while Caio Pacheco scored 12 points and Marcio Santos contributed 11 chips.

Jalen Bridges had 13 points for the USA, with teammate Keyonte George adding 12. Jordan Turner and Dantwan Grimes each scored 11 points for the Americans, who were 42-38 behind at halftime.

The Canadian women won the preliminary round 3-0 against Belgium, France and the USA, represented by Virginia Commonwealth. They defeated the Americans 85-60 in the semifinals on Saturday.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Russell, a 20-year-old from Ottawa. “The biggest thing for me was that I was so looking forward to playing in front of my parents because it’s been so long because of COVID. They haven’t seen me play and a lot of people can’t see us play at (college). It’s just difficult to do.

“We talked about it: none of us have ever played on a home court in Canada, right? So it’s just amazing, we’re so proud and we got the ‘dub’ and I’m so excited.”

Canada led 19-16 after a quarter, but Yvonne Ejim’s layup late in the second quarter capped Canada’s 13-3 run that put them 13 points ahead. With a 37:25 lead we went into the half-time break.

Canada continued to pour it out in the second half. Leading 58-43 with a quarter to go, Pellington’s layup with 8:25 to play gave the Canadians a 22 lead and it was all but over.

Edwards, Russell, a forward for Louisville, and Arizona guard Pellington were on the Canada team at the Tokyo Olympics last summer and will be in New York at Canada Seniors Camp at the end of July. Canada will play two friendlies against Australia in preparation for the World Cup this autumn.

They hope their performance this week made a statement about their future roles with the senior team.

“Absolutely,” Edwards said. “It’s just a taste of what the next generation will look like. It’s U23 so it can be a great transition to senior national team. I think it showed that we can dominate at this level and with the A-women.”

Canada’s new senior coach, Victor Lapena, sat on the sidelines for all of Canada’s games.

“I’m so excited about the future of women’s basketball in Canada because this is just the beginning,” Russell said.

Carly Clarke, women’s U23 head coach and senior assistant, said the tournament had been great for Edwards & Co’s continued growth ahead of the World Cup and beyond that the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“There’s a lot to deal with playing at home in a big event like this,” Clarke said. “There are distractions everywhere, there is pressure to perform and they have dealt with that.

“Putting all those pieces together, those are things you have to do at a World Cup stage or an Olympic stage. You have to be able to do your best when there’s a lot going on around you. I think our team has that handled very well, very well.”

Clarke gave high praise to the opening event overall.

“It was great. It felt world class all week,” Clarke said.

Canada Basketball CEO Mike Bartlett said the event, which will return to Toronto next summer, is a great way to connect with the game’s future stars.

“I think that’s actually going to propel this program forward, the ripple effect of that for the next 10 to 15 years … if sometimes some of them have to make decisions about whether or not they play for us,” Bartlett said. “We’re at a point where we’re building a (strong) relationship with them.”

Canada Basketball dreams of Globl Jam growing into the basketball version of the Junior Hockey World Championship, both as a moneymaker and a platform to grow the game’s audience in Canada.

The tournament may not have drawn the crowds organizers had hoped for – the Mattamy Athletic Center was less than half full for most games in Canada. But Bartlett said the basketball community embraced it. Among those in attendance at the tournament were NBA Rookie of the Year Toronto Raptors Scottie Barnes, Oklahoma City Guardian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Raptors executives Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster, members of the senior women’s basketball team, and Olympic swimming star Penny Oleksiak.

Bartlett said FIBA ​​was happy with the event and the visiting teams said they would like to come back next summer.

The Canadian 3×3 Championships, held in conjunction with Globl Jam, drew crowds to nearby Yonge Dundas.

TIPS: Canada Basketball honored its 2021 and 2022 Hall of Fame inductees at halftime, including players Stewart Granger, Angela Straub and Tony Simms, coach Michele Belanger and builder John Bitove. Also among the newcomers were retired NBA stars Steve Nash and Rick Fox, who were absent.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 10, 2022.