Photo: Brent Smyth

Rams fall to Team China in hard-fought exhibition thriller

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By Chris Sanders

Despite their efforts in a action packed match-up, the Ryerson Rams men’s basketball team fell 78-73 to the Chinese men’s national basketball team on Tuesday night.

Following a heartbreaking U Sports final loss just a few months prior, the Rams were looking to get back into the win column in their first exhibition game of the season, all whilst aiming to spoil the finale of Team China’s Canadian basketball tour. 

The first quarter was highlighted by a rusty Ryerson side, who hadn’t touched the court in nearly three months. Throughout the frame, the Rams found themselves a step too slow on the defensive end and out of sync, leading to a 14-point deficit to heading into the second quarter. In what was mostly an uneventful start for the Rams, senior guard Myles Charvis was the team’s leading scoring with seven in the first 12 minutes of play.

“In the first quarter we took it a little bit easy,” said head coach Roy Rana. “[We] didn’t realize how competitive they are and once we matched their intensity, it became a game.”

In the second quarter, the Rams pushed to make a run of their own. However, it didn’t come easy as the Dragons set the tone with an aggressive style of play. As things began to look up for the blue and gold, Rams centre Tanor Ngom took a menacing charge, planting him on the court in agony he would not check in for the rest of the game.

“We knew they [China] were a little bit chippy — and even dirty at times — but you gotta play through that,” said Charvis. “You know there’s going to be elbows, there’s going to be hard fouls in basketball games, [but] you just got to fight through it and get to the ultimate goal; which is [winning].” 

After seeing one of their teammates show some heart, the Rams began to play their style of basketball, getting defensive stops and executing on fast breaks. Despite shooting 17 per cent from the three-point line in the first half, the Rams found themselves only trailing by 12 points. 

To kick off the third, the Rams sustained their late first half heroics, causing China’s liveliness to dwindle. Capitalizing on his opposition’s errors, Charvis kept the Rams rolling with several baskets to spark a 32-8 run and an eventual 57-53 lead heading into the final frame. 

“We could’ve packed it in being down 20,” said Charvis. “It’s July, the game didn’t mean anything, but our group — we’re young — we really fought, and just showed that no matter what the score is we still play hard. The sky’s the limit for us.”

The Rams gave it their all to make it a tightly contested fourth, but were unable to match their opponents’ will; allowing team China to get to their spots that led to backdoor cuts and easy putback finishes. 

Momentum was merely a factor for the Rams as Ryerson fans were disguised by the booming crowd of Chinese supporters. This would end up having a significant impact on the Dragons, re-igniting their engine and allowing them to take control the rest of the way. 

“It felt like a road game today,” said Rana. “You know, a hostile Chinese crowd in our own gym.”

Although it wasn’t exactly the result the Rams were looking for, they can be pleased with the way they battled adversity against a professional filled China roster.

“We didn’t turn it over that much, we competed, we rebounded with them,” Rana said. “I thought we defended really hard. There’s nothing to think about and say, ‘Hey, we need to work on this,’ we’ll work on this in September.”

The Rams will look to bounce back and redeem themselves when they take on R.J. Barrett and the Duke Blue Devils on August 15 at the Hershey Centre.  

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