Mamadou Gueye banked in a three-point buzzer-beater to move Canada into the gold-medal game at the Commonwealth Games with a wild 88-86 win over New Zealand on Saturday.
Justus Alleyn of the University of Manitoba delivered the game-winning assist after a Canadian timeout with five seconds remaining.
“It was a bit of a scramble. That’s not the play we drew up but the ball fell to me and I was confident as soon as the ball left my hands,” said Gueye, who plays for the University of Alberta.
The dramatic win guarantees Canada its first medal in men’s basketball at the Commonwealth Games and a date Sunday with host Australia. Canada did not enter a team at the Melbourne Games in 2006, the only other time basketball was on the program.
In the women’s bronze-medal game, New Zealand beat Canada 74-58. Ceejay Nofuente led the Canadians with 18 points. Australia won the women’s gold 99-55 over England.
Australia thrashed Scotland 103-46 in the other men’s semifinal. The Boomers beat Canada 95-55 in the first game of the tournament for both sides. Canada also lost 82-60 to New Zealand in the preliminary round.
Ryerson’s Ammanuel Diressa led Canada with 22 points, while UBC’s Conor Morgan added 19 and Carleton’s Munis Tutu contributed 17 points and a team-high six assists.
Canada led 45-42 and 75-58 going into the final quarter. But thanks to a 10-0 run, the Tall Blacks took the lead 85-83 with a little more than a minute to play. After a Diressa layup tied the score once again, New Zealand’s Shea Ili made one of two free throws.
“It was one of those ones where I thought we played phenomenal three quarters of basketball,” said Canada head coach Kirby Schepp, whose day job is coaching the University of Manitoba. “Give all the credit to New Zealand. Those are maybe the toughest guys I’ve maybe ever seen. They are just tough, tough guys. Battled, battled, battled. And we basically just survived their fight at the end.”
Canada fielded an all U Sports roster at the games.
“Being an international game for our guys who are somewhere between 18 and 23, at that level, against that quality of team … And now we have a chance to play Australia, in Australia, for gold. Priceless opportunity,” said Schepp.
The Canadian Press