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Barrett leads balanced offence as Canada thumps Lebanon at Basketball Worlds

RJ Barrett RJ Barrett - The Canadian Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia — RJ Barrett scored a game-high 17 points and Canada cruised to a 128-73 win over Lebanon on Sunday at the FIBA Men's Basketball World Cup.

All but two Canadians scored in double digits as Canada set a tournament record with 44 assists in improving to 2-0 at the tournament and advanced to the second round for the first time since 1998.

Trae Bell-Haynes had 15 points, hitting five of the six shots he took from three-point range, and added eight assists.

Melvin Ejim had 13 points, while Kelly Olynyk, Zach Edey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 12 apiece. Kyle Alexander and Dillon Brooks each chipped in 10.

“We played together, we shared the basketball,” Canada head coach Jordi Fernandez said. “Forty-four assists to 15 turnovers is a record in the World Cup. It just shows that sharing is caring and these guys were ready to play the right way.”

The 15th-ranked Canadians entered Sunday's game having thumped fifth-ranked France 95-65 on Friday.

“We’re super excited that we kept our momentum going,” Bell-Haynes said. “We talked about making sure that there wasn’t any fall off (after our win against France), keeping the momentum going and I think we did a good job.

"Our confidence is high. You could see everyone was playing well, playing free. Happy that we kept that going and hope we can continue to do that."

Omari Spellman led Lebanon with 16 points.

Canada — which shot 71 per cent from the floor, including 18-of-30 from three-point range — was up 16 points after the first quarter and went into halftime up 36.

The Canadians went into the fourth quarter up 100-48, with no player getting more than 20 minutes of action in the contest.

Canada finishes Group H play Tuesday against 2-0 Latvia, which also advanced to the second round after defeating — and eliminating — France 88-86 on Sunday. The winner will take first place in the group.

“The most important game is the next game,” Fernandez said. “Right now we have Latvia in our minds. We have to prepare for them. We’re going to play really hard against them for 40 minutes because they’re very good. We need that to grow.

"We don’t have the experience and we challenge ourselves to a high standard. Yes, I'm happy with what we’ve done, but what we’ve done is in the past. It just reinforces, it gives you confidence, but you need that next challenge and that next challenge is in front of us.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2023.

Note to readers: This is a corrected version. A previous version had Zack Edey instead of Zach Edey.