Canada kicked-off the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup qualifiers with a lopsided 89-72 home win over the visiting Dominican Republic at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre (CRWC) in Oshawa, Ontario.
Trailing 40-35 at half-time Team Canada outscored the opposition 54-32 in the second-half to pull away for the double-digit 17-point win. Canada outscored the Dominican 30-18 in the third-quarter and further limited the Caribbean nation to only 14 points in the final 10 minutes.
Andrew Nicholson (Mississauga, Ont.) playing in his first game for Canada since 2017, paced four players in double-figures with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. A key figure on offense for Canada, the 6’10’ former NBA bigmen connected on 7-17 shots and threw-down several dunks — including a big time one-hander that got the standing room crowd to it’s feet.
Philip Scrubb (Richmond, BC) continued to prove his worth with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists on 3-of-7 three-pointers. Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, Ont.) sliced and diced his way to 12 points, a game-high 8 assists and 3 rebounds. Former Ryerson Rams’ guard Aaron Best (Scarborough, Ont.) rounded out the top scorers in the starting line-up with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists.
Trae Bell-Haynes (Toronto, Ont.) played well in his national team debut with 9 points, 4 assists and MiKyle McIntosh (Toronto, Ont.) 9 points, 5 assists helped Canada’s bench outscore the Dominican Republic 32-12. All 12 Canadian players got in the game and 11 scored at least 3 points.
Canada, ranked 21st in the FIBA world rankings knocked down 32-of-61 (52.5%) field goals and hit on 13-of-34 triples. The foul-shooting on the other hand was pretty poor, with Team Canada finding the bottom of the net on just 12-of-21 (57.1%) attempts.
Canada’s defensive pressure forced the Dominican’s into 20 turnovers — leading to 29 points off of those mistakes for the Canadian’s.
No. 19 Dominican Republic, returned eight players from the 2019 World Cup. Victor Liz the team’s leading scorer in China had a game-high 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Eloy Vargas was next in line with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists and Angel Delgado finished with a near double-double with 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Unforeseen last minute technicalities forced the game to be moved from the Tribute Communities Centre to the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre — the beautiful new home of the Durham College Lords and University of Ontario Tech Ridgebacks.
The two teams will play again on Monday in the Dominican Republic. A road victory in hostile territory would put Team Canada in good shape to win Group C with upcoming games against No. 50 ranked Virgin Islands and No. 64 Cuba in the two remaining qualification windows.