TORONTO – A day after the Canadian women electrified the country with basketball gold, the men’s team successfully began their quest to do the same with an 105-88 win over the Dominican Republic.
Leading the way for the Canadian side was Brady Heslip who finished with 24 points on 9 for 15 shooting including four three-pointers. Anthony Bennett chipped in 15 points and Andrew Nicholson 14. FULL STATS HERE.
The offensive output from Heslip was much-needed for a team Jay Triano feared would have trouble putting points on the board, and he nearly wasn’t with the team until he left summer league early to play for his country.
“Brady’s a shooter, it’s not a secret,” Triano said after the game. “A lot of teams are going to focus on him so we’re going to need to get other people to step up and when they do that’ll open things up for Brady again.”
Despite starting, Carl English, Junior Cadougan and Aaron Dornekamp notched a combined 15 points. They’ll need to score a bit more to relieve offensive burden from Bennett and Nicholson in the starting unit.
Scoring, however was hardly an issue as Canada racked up 105 points and every player on the roster scored. Allowing 88 from this Dominican team should worry Triano’s team going forward.
“We were poor defensively for sure,” said Canada team GM Steve Nash after the game. “That wasn’t what we expect. That wasn’t the standard, a lot of breakdowns. Let’s hope we got that out of our system.”
Sim Bhullar made his presence felt with a couple big blocks, but should look to get more involved in the offence to dominate smaller defenders. He was a spectacle the home crowd enjoyed as Canadian fans relished a rare chance to see their team in action.
“It was great, just a lot of fun playing back in Toronto again,” remarked Brady Heslip after the game, echoing the team’s appreciation for the home crowd support. “We’re all really excited and just glad we could get the nerves out and get the W tonight.”
Heslip and Jamal Murray were buddy-buddy after the game and revealed they were roommates for the tournament. Their play in the opener highlighted the game for Canada.
Young gun Murray wowed the crowd with a breakaway jam and filled the stat sheet with 12 points on 71% shooting. Fellow Junior-team-age member Dillon Brooks played just under seven minutes and scored once.
Canada plays next Wednesday night at 6:00pm ET against Argentina. Tune in through the live stream on CBC Olympics and follow along for all the coverage YOU need @devingray33 on Twitter.