Canada’s #8 Andrew Wiggins
All five starters finish in double digit scoring for balanced win
Written by Jose Colorado for On Point Basketball
Maybe a wakeup call was exactly what was needed.
Following Canada’s lackadaisical opening game 94-87 loss to Argentina at the FIBA Americas Championships, Jay Triano’s squad has responded admirably.
The Canadians first crushed Cuba 101-59 in yesterday’s action, then put away a much more talented and pesky Venezuelan squad 82-62 in tonight’s group play affair in Mexico City.
Nik Stauskas had another strong outing leading the way with 16 points on five-of-8 shooting while Kelly Olynyk contributed 14 points, 8 rebounds and six assists as Canada used a strong first half performance, taking a 47-28 halftime lead and never looking back against their South American opponents.
The game was never really in question as Canada maintained a double-digit lead from the end of the first quarter onwards in large part due to a 52-33 advantage on the glass.
Although the Venezuelans cut the lead down to 11 points in the fourth with 7 minutes to go, Triano’s club responded with consecutive buckets punctuated by an Anthony Bennett dunk in transition that sealed the game for all intents and purposes.
While Canada put on an offensive exhibition against Cuba, the Venezuelans – who are ranked just two spots behind Canada in the world rankings at 27 – proved to be a much tougher and more persistent opponent.
Dwight Powell was sent hard to the floor in the second quarter and did not return(reported elbow injury) while Cory Joseph was body checked at half court nearly three minutes later as the South Americans refused to relent in their physical play.
Despite the tactics, Canada frustrated the Venezuelans into 30 per cent shooting in the first quarter while sizzling at a 61 per cent clip of its own – displaying a level of offensive continuity not seen against this caliber of competition previously in the tournament.
FIBA post-game interview with #9 Nik Stauskas
Canada shot 51 per cent from the floor, notched 24 assists, and had all five starters reach double digits in scoring.
Joseph in particular seemed to ignite the offence, looking like the 2013 FIBA America version of himself – where he averaged 16.1 points per game.
He regularly attacked and pushed the pace leading to a number of transition and trailer scoring opportunities for his teammates.
The captain finished with 10 points, 7 rebounds and six assists.
Dwight Lewis came off the bench to lead Venezuela with 17 points, while big man Nestor Colmenares, had 16 points.
Venezuela is competing without former Toronto Raptor Greivis Vasquez who was dealt in the offseason to the Milwaukee Bucks. The squad currently has no NBA players on its roster.
The two teams now hold identical records at 2-1 with 5 points apiece, yet Canada holds sole possession of second place by way of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Canada’s last preliminary game goes tomorrow at 7pm against Puerto Rico.
Written by Jose Colorado (Twitter: @ColoradoURB Instagram: @jcolo23 )
Photo Courtesy of Canada Basketball/FIBA Twitter
Edited by Drew Ebanks