And its move towards the podium has been a team effort.
“Throughout the tournament, we’ve consistently played 10 guys and they’re playing significant minutes”, said Triano.
“Win or lose, getting to this point has been great for our young players”, said the coach.
With top talent missing due to National Basteball Association summer league or contract issues, the depth has been welcome. Bhullar scored four points with three blocked shots in 13 minutes. (Thursday night), Mexico hung around because of their ability to shoot the basketball from the three-point line.
Canada opened up and defeated the Dominican Republic 105-88. The Brazil-U.S. victor will play Pool B runner-up Argentina in the other semi.
The Dominicans advanced out of a three-way logjam by virtue of points difference between the teams tied.
“Our goal here is to win”, Triano said.
I know that in the months leading up to this event there was a lot of unfounded and unrealistic excitement about the men’s team and the tournament.
“With the short preparation, you’re not sure how your team is going to adapt and come together, but we do look like we’re coming together”, said Canada Basketball executive vice-president and assistant general manager Rowan Barrett.
“We’ve got a starting point right now”, he said. “That means rebounding, and doing what I’ve got to do to help the team win”. “They are guys who have been around the block and [our young guys] need to learn the global game and there’s not better way to do it than against these teams”.
Six of the Canadian 12-man roster is 23 or younger.
It’s been fun – and a little bit weird – watching this incarnation of the senior men’s hoop team play what in reality is a five-game season before the squad is disbanded. The girl’s game [where the Canadian women’s team won gold against the US] was electrifying.
There were a few empty seats at the Mattamy Athletic Centre but the crowd was vocal in its support for the home team. But a 17-0 run late in the first quarter that saw the Mexicans miss seven straight shots, make three turnovers and commit five fouls had the Canadians ahead 27-16 going into the second. They combined for 19 of Canada’s 24 points in the first quarter and 30 of 44 in the first half. The Mexicans were down by 14 going into the final quarter. Analyst Fran Fraschilla, commentating during Canada’s Wednesday win vs. Argentina, said, “He doesn’t seem to be rattled by big moments”.
Triano wants Nicholson to play with emotion but to avoid fouls and, most importantly, not to talk to referees.
He was supposed to watch quietly from the bench while the veterans of Canada’s national team handled business, and then allow him to come and pick up the garbage time.
But the idea of Murray putting up the biggest numbers of all four, against what could have been Canada’s toughest test until the medal rounds, was not something I believe anyone expected, even if we knew he had it in him. The USA was 2-0 heading into a game on Thursday night with Puerto Rico.