TORONTO, ON–If you’ve been following the game in Canada then it will come to you as no surprise the there’s an endless amount of talent budding at all ends of the country and at all levels. This weekend the NPH team had a chance to watch two days of OCAA basketball at George Brown College, who was hosting their 35th annual invitational tournament.
A few of the top talents who received tournament All-Star recognition were; Abednego Lufile(REDA), Bryan McDonald (Fanshawe), Manny Campbell (Mohawk), Taylor Dowhaniuk (Mohawk) and Sal Abdoulkader (George Brown). In the end, it was the George Brown Huskies and the Mohawk Mountaineers that went to battle in the finals, the Mountaineers taking it all with a 80-68 victory.
Mohawk started in “slow mo” most games of the tournament but would quickly switch up the tempo and show spurts of defensive pressure that caused opponents to turn over the ball consecutively. At one point in the game, while in a 1-2-2 full court press, they forced a back court violation, a pass that was thrown out of bounds and an eight second call.
As the season progresses, George Brown guards will need to do a better job of being patient and and composed when they see traps forming. Overall, the ball handlers will need to tighten up and use more ball fakes in the press break rather than turning their back to the defenders.
The interior presence of Taylor Dowhaniuk earned him tournament MVP. Dowhaniuk finished with 11 points, six rebounds and five blocks.
Mohawks speedy PG, Manny Campbell comments after the game on what an important piece Douhaniuk is to this team.
“He controls basically our whole defense, he gets a lot of blocks and rebounds as you can see and it’s intimidating to have a guy that does that.”
When the game got under way, the Huskies quickly realized that finishing around the basket and above the rim was not going to be as easy in this game as it was in others. If Douhaniuk did not block a shot, he still made it a very difficult one and deterred the Huskies from continuing to try and finish at the hoop.
Sal Abdoulkader, who is the Huskies “go to” scorer would not take no for an answer and forced his entry, slashing lanes and attacking Mohawk’s bigs. Abdoulkader racked up 26 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. This is the most assists he had throughout the tournament. He recognized when the defense collapsed and was able to find open team mates; although he takes a lot of shots, he still is a willing passer to those who make themselves an available option.
Mohawk grabbed their first lead of the game at the end of the second quarter and went into halftime with a 36-30 lead. A two hand jam by Douhaniuk to start the third frame infused the team with energy both on the floor and on the bench.
Mountaineer forward, Andrew Cicuttini had a double-double in two of the three games in this tournament. In the finals he finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds while doing an excellent job sealing huskies out of the paint and preventing second chance opportunities.
All in all, the CCAA defending champs played a well rounded team game with production from every position, finishing with six players in double digit scoring. On the other hand, Huskies will need to restructure and find other scoring options in big games to pitch in with Abdoulkader.
Both teams are 8-2 in OCAA standings and it would not be far fetched to think that their is the possibility that they may meet again in the playoffs.
The NPH team would like to thank coach Jonathan Smith and the staff at George Brown College for their hospitality throughout the tournament.
NPH Top Performers
- Andrew Cicuttini- 15 points, 11 rebounds,
- Manny Campbell- 14 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists
- Taylor Douhaniuk- 11 points, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks
- Alex Reis- 12 points, 9 rebounds
- Xzennis Brereton- 11 points, 7 rebounds
- Sal Abdoulkader- 24 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists