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Australia slay Canada in Basketball World Cup 'Group of Death'

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Dongguan (China) (AFP)

Australia drew first blood in the so-called "Group of Death" at the Basketball World Cup with a nail-biting 108-92 victory over Canada on Sunday in China.

Cleveland Cavaliers' Matthew Dellavedova was key for the Boomers, leading the way with 24 points after Canada had battled back from a 12-point half-time deficit to lead going into the fourth quarter.

Along with Serbia, Greece, Spain and France, Australia have been mentioned as a threat to America's long dominance, but they will need to defy history -- the Boomers have never gone beyond the quarter-finals in 11 previous World Cup appearances.

With reigning two-time champions the United States playing later in the day, Australia and Canada took centre stage in the 32-team tournament.

Australia began their title bid in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan against a Canada side led by NBA champion coach Nick Nurse but missing many of their biggest names.

In a highly competitive Group H also containing Lithuania and Senegal, Australia led 52-40 at half-time with Joe Ingles of NBA team the Utah Jazz scoring 10 points and registering three assists against Canada's slack defence. He finished with a match-leading 10 assists.

Veteran Andrew Bogut had been a doubt going into the clash with Nurse's men, but Australia's star centre played and had nine rebounds.

Canada came out for the third period with serious intent, racking up nine unanswered points to rattle the stunned Australians and claw the match back.

The lead changed hands several times but Canada miraculously went into the decisive fourth stanza 77-76 ahead.

Yet they appeared to have run out of juice and a relentless Australia finally pulled away in the decisive fourth quarter.

An experimental United States, who are missing major star names such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, begin their title defence against the Czech Republic in Shanghai later on Sunday.

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