The Czech Republic ended Canada’s hopes for a berth in the Tokyo Olympics Saturday with a 103-101 overtime win at a last-chance men’s basketball qualifying event in Victoria.
Czech captain Tomas Satoransky scored with 1.4 seconds left on the clock to seal the win for the Czechs, who will now play either Greece or Turkey in Sunday’s final.
The Canadians were down nine points with 44 seconds to go in regulation but stormed back, capped with a basket from Andrew Wiggins that tied the game at 94-94 with less than three seconds left, forcing the extra time.
Wiggins, a forward for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, led Canada with 22 points and eight rebounds.
The hot-shooting Czechs led from start to finish, paced by forward Blake Schilb who netted 31 points.
Canada reached the semifinals with wins over Greece (97-91) and China (107-79) in group action at the must-win tournament, but now must wait for the Paris Games in 2024 for another shot at Olympic glory.
About 800 boisterous pro-Canada fans were in the building Saturday clapping, stomping and cheering on the Canadians following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions. The smell of freshly popped popcorn wafted through the arena.
Eight NBA players, including Nickeil Alexander-Walker (New Orleans), Trey Lyles (San Antonio), Mychal Mulder (Golden State), captain Cory Joseph (Detroit), Luguentz Dort (Oklahoma), Wiggins (Golden State), RJ Barrett (New York) and Dwight Powell (Dallas), are on the roster, widely considered the most talented Canadian men’s basketball team in history for this week’s tournament on home court.
The 12-member roster is rounded out by Trae Bell-Haynes, Anthony Bennett, Aaron Doornekamp and Andrew Nicholson.
Canada, ranked No. 21 in the world, was in Group A with Greece and China for the six-team tournament that started Tuesday. Group B included Uruguay, Turkey and the Czech Republic.
China and Uruguay were eliminated earlier this week.
There are three other last-chance tournaments happening in Croatia, Lithuania and Serbia this week to determine the final Olympic sports.
The Canadian women’s team, ranked fourth, earned its third consecutive Olympic berth last February.