Canada's men's Commonwealth Games team defeated New Zealand 88-86 in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon to advance to the gold medal game at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Ammanuel Diressa led Canada with 22 points, while Conor Morgan added 19 points of his own in the win. Munis Tutu finished with 17 points and a team-high six assists.
Leading 45-42 at halftime, Canada poured it on in the third quarter, outscoring New Zealand 30-16 to carry a 75-58 advantage into the final frame.
However, the Tall Blacks wouldn't go quietly. Thanks in large part to a 10-0 run and stingy defence, New Zealand took the lead 85-83 with just over a minute to play in the fourth quarter. After a Diressa layup evened the score once again, New Zealand's Shea Ili, who had not missed a free throw all week, split a pair giving Canada one final chance with 5.1 seconds to play.
Coming out of a timeout, Justus Alleyn found Mamadou Gueye who buried a three pointer as time expired to give Canada the historic victory.
Click here for the box score.
With the win, Canada is now guaranteed their first medal in men's basketball at the Commonwealth Games. Basketball has only been on the Commonwealth Games program once, at Melbourne 2006 (Canada did not enter teams in the tournament).
"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," - Mamadou Gueye
"It was a broken play at the end a little bit. I think they guarded it very, very well. We ended up getting the ball into the hands of a guy who had been sitting a little bit in the second half and he just made a play at the end. It was one of those ones where I thought we played phenomenal three quarters of basketball. 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." - Kirby Schepp, Head Coach
"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." - Kirby Schepp, Head Coach