PERTH, Australia — Canada’s men’s basketball team dropped a physical 81-73 decision to Australia in the second World Cup tuneup meeting between the two teams Saturday.
The Canadians trounced Australia 90-70 in the opening game of the exhibition series on Friday.
Orlando Magic forward Khem Birch scored 18 points to lead the Canadians on Saturday, while Oshae Brissett had 14 points and Kaza Kajami-Keane scored 11. Melvin Ejim had nine points and a team-high seven rebounds.
“They punched us in the mouth tonight, became more physical, more aggressive, all because we came out more physical yesterday,” said Birch. “We kind of knew they were going to come with that approach tonight, but we weren’t ready for it.”
Jock Landale led the Australian Boomers with 13 points while Jonah Bolden had 12.
The Canadians led by as many as nine points in the third quarter Saturday, but trailed 60-59 heading into the fourth. Then they went ice cold, going 2-for-10 from the field in the early minutes as Australia went up by nine.
Canada pulled to within three with 3:30 to play on six straight points from Birch, but that was as close as the Canadians would come down the stretch.
“I thought it was very positive for us, these two games. I thought we played extremely well,” said associate head coach Gordie Herbert. “We competed, we played as a team. Obviously, last night we shot a little bit better from three-point land.”
Barcelona guard Kevin Pangos sat out Saturday’s game.
Canada tips off the World Cup against Australia on Sept. 1 in China.
Canada goes into the World Cup without most of their NBA stars. Miami Heat’s Kelly Olynyk became the latest big-name player to pull out after sustaining a knee injury. He joined Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray, R.J. Barrett, Tristan Thompson, Dwight Powell, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as other top Canadian NBA players to miss the World Cup.
Sacramento Kings point guard Cory Joseph isn’t in Australia, but could rejoin the team for the World Cup.
The Canadians will play New Zealand in a pair of exhibition games on Tuesday and Wednesday before wrapping up its pre-tournament schedule against the United States on Aug. 26
The Australian Boomers host the Americans in a pair of games next week.