Canada took another step in the right direction with a crucial 82-62 win over Venezuela and are firmly back on track at the FIBA Americas tournament.
Nik Stauskas found his touch for 16 points, and Kelly Olynyk set the pace for Canada early and finished with 14 points and went to work on the boards.
Overall, Canada held a 52-33 edge on the glass and often tipped the ball around the rim for second, third, and fourth chances. An advantage in length and athleticism was clearly evident.
One of the pleasant surprises for Canada through the tournament has been Mavs forward Dwight Powell, whose length and motor helped Canada’s frontcourt depth and was having another impactful game before hitting the court hard after a hit from two Venezuelans.
It was just one instance of hard physical contact in a game filled with it. Flagrant fouls muddied up the action, but the good news for Canada is that Powell was able to return to the bench and after the game coach Jay Triano said it was his decision Powell didn’t play again during the game.
Venezuela is a tough team missing a few key players including former Raptor Greivis Vasquez, had started the tournament 2-0 and were by no means an easy out and Canada rose to the occasion.
Andrew Wiggins contributed in various ways but didn’t need to dominate on offence for Canada to build a lead which is a good sign for their depth. Wiggins finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the rounded effort.
Canada plays Puerto Rico on Friday night at 7pm EST on TSN, their final preliminary game of the FIBA Americas.