With an extra off day under their belts prior to facing a tough-minded New Zealand squad, Canada had more gas left in the tank in the game’s final minutes to secure a hard fought 78-72 win that was closer than the final score indicated.
New Zealand jumped out to an early 15-11 lead thanks to a 8-0 first quarter run, but with Canada dictating the pace for the most part they were able to regroup and lead most of the way.
Cory Joseph had a lot to do with that preferred pace as he started hitting 4 of his first 5 shots en route to a game-high 23 points.
A hot start from three was not a sign of things to come though for Canada, like in their game against Senegal they struggled mightily hitting just 1-of-15 after the first quarter. In the final three quarters of the last two games, they have shot a dreadful 1-of-26.
Coach Triano noted that their confidence was down from long distance and they made an adjustment to attack the rim more, but he knows that they “eventually have to make shots” to enjoy sustained success.
Tristan Thompson led the way inside as expected with 13 points on only 5 shots along with 10 rebounds including 5 on the offensive end. He was given great support though from Melvin Ejim’s 13 and 7 along with 2 blocks as well as Khem Birch’s 4 offensive rebounds in just 11 minutes. The coaching staff’s confidence in that pair off the bench was evident as well, as they both played critical roles late after being rewarded with the opportunity. Making it even more impressive was that the Kiwis were forced to go small late, having lost a second big man who fouled out.
New Zealand’s Webster brothers were a key reason they were able to tie the game going into halftime, combining for 24 of New Zealand’s 42 points. The point guard Tai then came away with 4 offensive rebounds after halftime, but his older brother could not match his energy late. This included a key air ball and turnover in the game’s final few minutes, after earlier taking only their second half lead at 66-64 with about 6 minutes remaining in the game. Coach Triano reflected afterwards about how he settled his team down following that key point, leading to their 14-6 game ending run:
“I told them to breathe just to relax, we got caught up a little bit and they hit a three which hurts us. At the end of the game our execution, spreading the floor and being able to use our athleticism was our strength.” In another similarity to their struggles from three over the last games, they shot just 56 percent on 25 free throws down from 61 percent against Senegal.
Without marked improvement from three and the charity stripe, it’s hard to see how Canada will knock off a France team that is determined to get Tony Parker to Rio in his last tour of duty with the national team.
However, aside from Tristan Thompson’s history of difficulties from the line (excluding this game where he was 5-of-7), there is definitely an expectation that an improvement in those categories should eventually come.
A big X factor will be Brady Heslip, who has shot only 1-of-12 the last two games including 0-of-8 from long distance. Making those stats even harder to stomach is his lack of contributions in other areas, with only 2 assists and at times being exposed on the defensive end as well in about 40 minutes of action over the last two games.
France had Nic Batum in the lineup for the first time in their semi-final victory and looked sharper as a result even though his contribution was limited. They enjoyed a comfortable lead throughout most of the 2nd half, allowing them to rest Parker and Batum for the latter stages of the game.
The advantage at point guard that Canada has enjoyed throughout the tournament will be negated against France not just because of Parker, but also former Raptor Nando De Colo and Turkish league star Thomas Heurtel as well. Canada and France will face off for the right to go to Rio Sunday at 9am EST on TSN.
Dominicana barks back defeats Canada in AmeriCup 2021 OT qualifying thriller
Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) shock-off a slow start, forced overtime before losing a controversial, yet thrilling 88-84 overtime road game to the Dominican Republic at the FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers in Santo Domingo.
Multiple ties and a total of twelve lead changes turned up the energy as both teams exchanged jabs in an exciting fourth-quarter. Trailing 75-73 with five seconds remaining in regulation — after the Dominican Republic failed to ice the game at the free-throw line, Canada appeared to have won the contest with a walk-off game-winning three-point shot by Conor Morgan that sent the entire team running off into the tunnel for a jubilant locker-room celebration.
The euphoria quickly ended and the celebration halted as the referees reviewed the shot and confirmed it as a two pointer — sending the game into overtime after 75-75, 40-minute deadlock.
The referee, standing within three-feet of Morgan and with clear 2020 vision lifted her hand to signal a three-point shot, but for some odd reason changed her call. Further video evidence, shot by a fan sitting courtside clearly showed and confirmed that the Canadian player was indeed behind the three-point line, albeit being extremely close.
Canada failed to match the Dominican Republic’s intensity early on and trailed 18-9 with 2:01 to play in a physical, foul-plagued, slow-moving first-quarter that finished with the home team ahead 22-16 after 10 minutes. Overall the Canadian’s shot just 3-for-12, turned the ball over six times but stayed within striking distance thanks to 9-of-12 free-throws.
The whistles kept on coming, the fouls started to pile-up and the pace turned to a snails’ race as both teams struggled to get anything going in the second-quarter. Canada’s Aaron Best acrobatic layup and thunderous inbounds alley-oop energized Team Canada. A late Dominican Republic triple maintained their six-point cushion with a 39-33 half-time lead in a evenly played 17-17 quarter.
The late arriving home crowd continued to fill the Palacio de los Desportes arena just in time to see the local team extend the lead to a game-high 10-points with the scoreboard showing 50-40 with 3:09 to play in the third-quarter.
Philip Scrubb (Richmond, BC) quickly shifted the momentum in Canada’s favour with a personal 9-0 run on back-to-back triples and an old-fashioned hoop plus the harm three-point play forcing a Dominican timeout. Canada extended the run to 12-0, contributed by poor-fouling shooting by the Dominican Republic to take 52-50 lead.
With the game hanging in the balance in the extra session Luis Montero drilled a clutch spot-up baseline three-pointer to give the Dominican Republic a 86-82 edge as they hung on for the thrilling overtime win.
Scrubb finished with a game-high 26 points on 6-of-13 field goals, 4-of-9 triples and 10-of-13 free-throws. The CD Estudiantes guard of the Spanish Liga ACD added 6 assists, adding 2 rebounds in a nearly 40 minutes of game action. Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, Ont.) hit some big shots and finished with 15 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and Aaron Best (Toronto, Ont.) was great with 15 points, 3 rebounds on 6-of-11 field-goals and 3-of-7 triples before fouling out.
Andrew Nicholson failed to find any consistency and fouled out in the three-quarter with 7 points and 6 rebounds. In total four Canadian players were disqualified as Canada was called for a total 32 team-fouls.
Eloy Vargas once again was the top player for the Dominican Republic with 16 points and 5 rebounds. The veteran 6’11 forward and former Kentucky Wildcat had and outstanding showing in the opening window of the 2021 FIBA Americas qualifiers. Rigoberto Mendoza added 12 points, 4 rebounds and Gelvis Salon stuffed the stat-sheet with 10 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds.
The Dominican connected on 31-of-72 (43.1%) field goals, including 9-of-27 (33%) from downtown and a sub-par 17-of-31 (54.8%) from the foul-line. Team Canada finished 25-of-65 (38.5%) from the floor, 11-of-32 (34.4%) from three-point land and slightly improved free-throw shooting 23/33 (69.7%).
Canada (1-1) will resume the FIBA 2021 AmeriCup qualifiers on November 26, 2020 with a game against Cuba (1-1).
Canada romps Dominican Republic in opener of FIBA AmeriCup 2021 qualifiers
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 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 findin 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 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.