By Harlan Nemerofsky
Brady Heslip scored a game-high 21 points and Levon Kendall added 18, as the Canadian Senior Men’s Basketball Team defeated Jamaica 81- 72 Thursday night, in the first of two exhibitions being played at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. The pair of games— known as the Jack Donohue International Classic — is being used by both teams to prepare for the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship later this month.
“We needed to play a game. We’ve been playing against ourselves in practice everyday,” said Canadian head coach Jay Triano. “As the game went on I thought we made some adjustments and we got better.”
Triano praised his team’s defense, which surrendered just 31 points in the second half. Meanwhile, Team Canada shot an efficient 45%, while dominating on the offensive and defensive glass.
Heslip, who scored 12 of his 18 in the second half alone, was named the player-of-the-game for Canada, while Adrian Uter, who led his team with 16 points, was named player-of-the-game for Jamaica.
“I’ve known him his whole life and he’s never lacked confidence shooting the basketball — that’s the great thing,” said Triano of Heslip, his nephew.
“I want him to shoot the ball when he gets open like that. It was the same thing earlier this summer in China and when we played in Russia. We’re in tight games and he’ll come down and hit three in a row and break the game open and be the hero.”
Thirty-one fouls were called between the two sides in what turned out to be a heated affair. Having coached at the international level for over a decade, Triano wasn’t surprised by the intensity level.
“This is international basketball. That’s exactly what our players have to get used to doing. I think you could see Tristan [Thompson] and Andrew [Nicholson] a little frustrated. They’re not used to that, but we’re playing these exhibition games so they can get a chance to play the international game and understand that physicality is a little different than what they’re used to.”
Carleton Ravens’ point guard Phillip Scrubb was one of five Canadians to not play. However, Triano said he expected all players on the roster would play in the two game set.
Game two will be played on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the MAC.