Darrell Nwobu scores a century for Canada in final match at FIBA Esports Open

“A couple close losses were the difference, but those served as great learning opportunities to develop our poise and camaraderie, which is very strong on this team after a relatively short time together,” Canadian team manager Shane Talbot, who doubles as esports manager for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, said in a statement. “We’re all looking forward to growing as a team and for future opportunities to represent our country on the global stage.”

Canada went 2-2 on Day 1 Saturday, thumping Guatemala 151-35 — a FIBA points record in a game — and Costa Rica 89-39 while losing 82-56 to Puerto Rico and 67-61 to the powerful U.S. whose roster include Raptors Uprising GC star point guard Kenneth (Kenny Got Work) Hailey.

Lakers Gaming point guard Sten (Sav) Valge-Saar led Canada with 65 points and 16 assists against Guatemala and 41 points and 14 assists against the Dom

On Sunday, the Canadians lost 64-58 to the Dominican Republic before closing out with the rout of Honduras.

The tournament, the second edition of the FIBA Esports Open, marked Canada Basketball’s first foray into esports.

‘We’re just getting started,” the Canadian governing body tweeted.

Some 38 countries competed, more than double the field of the inaugural event. The tournament, split into six regional conferences, kicked off in November with champions already declared in Africa (Ivory Coast), Europe, (Turkey), the Middle East (Saudi Arabia) and Southeast Asia/Oceania (Australia).

Competition also went this weekend in South America, with teams from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela taking part.

Canada’s team featured two other players with NBA 2K League experience: Yusuf (Yusuf — Scarbz) Abdulla of Kings Guard Gaming and Meyhar (AuthenticAfrican) Ahmed-Hassan of Grizz Gaming.

Each team consisted of seven players: five on the court and two reserves. The PS4 game was played remotely on NBA 2K21, using the pro-am mode which has more range and flexibility in player archetypes than the NBA 2K League build.

The Canadians, who were coached by Sam Pham, played remotely.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2020

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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