TORONTO — Canada will miss the podium at the men's under-23 world wheelchair basketball championship after a 58-45 loss to Japan in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Liam Hickey led the Canadians with 19 points and 14 rebounds while Ben Moronchuk added 18 points.
Canada will face Germany for fifth place on Thursday.
"We came a little bit short this game and have to give it to Japan, they're a quick team," said Canadian assistant coach Dave Durepos.
"This is a great opportunity to grow, they'll probably always remember this when it's going to be difficult to go on. We're looking forward to playing Germany, we played against them just this past month and we did well, so I'm looking forward to it."
A poor second quarter and some sloppy play led to Canada digging itself a deficit too big to overcome at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
The Canadians trailed 13-11 after one quarter, but were down by eight at halftime after scoring just three points in the second. Hickey went 1 for 2 from the free-throw line 36 seconds into the quarter and Moronchuk added their only basket with 5:38 to play as the Japanese defence stymied the Canadians.
Canada finished the game with 21 turnovers — seven in the second quarter alone — while forcing only nine from Japan. The Japanese took advantage of Canada's inability to handle the ball, outscoring them 12-2 off turnovers while generating 23 more field-goal attempts through 40 minutes.
The Canadians started to find their groove early in the fourth quarter and cut Japan's lead to just two points with 6:35 to play, but the Japanese put together a 12-0 run to secure their place in the tournament's final four.
"I'm really proud of the guys, they came together and they had an opportunity to win it," added Durepos.
Canadian head coach Darrell Nordell rode his starting five the entire game until Moronchuk fouled out with 1:20 to go in the fourth.
Japan's Takuya Furusawa led all scorers with a game-high 21 points.
Moronchuk and Furusawa entered the contest 1-2 in tournament scoring.
It'll be Japan against Britain and Australia versus Turkey in Thursday's semifinals at the 12-nation tournament, with the gold-medal game set for Friday.
The Canadians won back-to-back gold medals in 1997 and 2001, but haven't reached the podium since. Germany captured gold at the last U23 world championship in 2013 while Canada finished sixth.
The Canadian Press