Canada Coach Calls Out Knicks’ RJ Barrett in Tough Loss

RJ Barrett, Canada, Knicks

Getty Brazil's Leonardo Meindl shoots as Canada's RJ Barrett (L) and Luguentz Dort (R) block during the FIBA Basketball World Cup match between Brazil and Canada.

New York Knicks starting wing RJ Barrett‘s wings got clipped in a stunning Canada 69-65 loss to a Brazil team with zero NBA players in the second round of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Barrett typified Canada’s shooting woes as the Knicks’ small forward shot 1-of-8 from the floor for only four points. It was the second game in the World Cup that Barrett was held to only one made field goal. He was 1-of-10 in the opener against France.

“RJ has to run the floor and score efficiently and defend, and he didn’t,” Canada coach Jordi Fernandez said, singling him out along with their other main guys, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kelly Olynyk.

But Fernandez was quick to add: “It’s not about pointing any of these guys. They’ve been amazing. They’ve worked really hard. They’ve competed at a high level. We’ve had one bad game right now. We own it. We watch it. We learn from it. And we’re gonna come out really, really aggressive and ready to fight the next game. That’s how life is.”

They better be because all teams in their group sport a 3-1 record after Latvia also stunned Spain 74-69.

The Canada-Spain match on Sunday now becomes a knockout game.

Canada was still ahead, 55-53 when Barrett returned to the game with 5:22 left. Barrett could not get his game going as Brazil went on a 16-10 closing run.

Brazil slowed the pace and took away Canada’s open floor game. The Canadians’ poor shooting (39%) did them in.

“Defensively, I think we were fine,” Canada coach Jordi Fernandez said after the game. “Offensively, we were not willing to do anything for each other, space the floor, move the ball, move bodies. And when you play like that, it’s really hard to win.”

Canada got stuck in the mud with only 10 assists against nine turnovers. It was night and day when the Canadians had a FIBA World record 44 assists in a 128-73 rout in the group phase.

Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart Benched Down the Stretch

Like Barrett, his Knicks teammates Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart also struggled in Team USA’s tough 85-73 win over Montenegro earlier on Friday.

They watched from the bench in the final 13 minutes of the match.

Brunson was a game-worst minus-5 for Team USA after being held to only four points on 2-of-6 shooting. The Knicks point guard added four rebounds, a steal and two assists against two turnovers.

Hart only grabbed a tournament personal-low two rebounds while scattering four points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Rokas Jokubaitis on Fire Heading to Team USA Face-Off

Knicks’ 2021 second-round pick Rokas Jokubaitis is breathing fire heading into the battle of undefeated teams on Sunday between Lithuania and Team USA.

He is coming off a pair of 19-point, six-assist performances in Lithuania’s rousing victories against Greece and Montenegro.

Jokubaitis has circled Sunday’s matchup against Brunson and Hart.

“Everybody knows the situation,” Jokubaitis told Eurohoops after leading Lithuania to a sweep of Group D.

Jokubaitis will remain in Europe next season as the Knicks are loaded with guards led by Brunson.

“[Team USA] have two New York Knicks players, [Josh] Hart and [Jalen] Brunson. It will be a fun matchup,” Jokubaitis said.

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