By Harlan Nemerofsky
The Canadian Senior Men’s Basketball Team surged late to defeat Jamaica 77-72 on Saturday, in the second game of the Jack Donahue Invitational Classic being hosted at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre. After trailing for the majority of the game — and by as much as 17 at one point — Canada completed the comeback in the final minutes of the game.
Tristan Thompson (of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers) scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a Player of the Game performance, as Canada outscored Jamaica 24-9 in the fourth quarter.
“I thought he was pretty good tonight,” said Canadian head coach Jay Triano of Thompson’s performance. “We (the coaching staff) went after him the other day about being a bit better rebounder but I thought he dominated inside tonight and that he was very good.”
Andrew Nicholson, Andrew Rautins and Joel Anthony also scored in double digits for Team Canada, who held Team Jamaica to just 30 per cent shooting in the entire second half.
Rautins scored 8 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.
“We finally started playing to our philosophy in keeping them out of the paint. We clamped down at the end when we had to and that’s what we’re trying to do. We just need to do it from the beginning of the game,” said Triano.
With the win, Team Canada managed to sweep Jamaica in their two game exhibition set meant to get ready for the FIBA Americas Championship later this month.
“We said coming into these two games that our goals were to be competitive and have this be a tryout [to make the 12-man roster that will play in Venezuela],” said Team Canada’s Head Coach Jay Triano.
Philip Scrubb of the Carleton Ravens —the only player on either team to play in the CIS — had 3 points, 2 assists and 3 rebounds in over 25 minutes after not playing in the first game.
“I think we’re definitely on the way up,” said Scrubb, when asked about being the only player on the team from the CIS. “More guys in the future will be playing for this team and the skill of basketball in the CIS is definitely improving.
Canada was flawless from the free-throw line, going a perfect 15/15 compared to Jamaica’s 9/18, and dominated the offensive and defensive glass for the second straight game, outrebounding 39-26.
“Everyone knows we have a young group of guys but a very talented group of guys so it’s exciting to get a chance to work with them and for everyone to get an opportunity to get one the same page, “ said Team Canada veteran Joel Anthony, who won his second straight NBA Championship last season with the Miami Heat.
Jamaica’s Patrick Ewing Jr. led all players with 20 points while Scott Akeem and Brampton-native Dylan Ennis also scored in double-digits for Jamaica.
“The size was against us, it was tough rebounding, it was tough playing defense against the big guys that Canada has but I thought our guys played with a lot of heart,” said Richard Pollack, Jamaica’s assistant coach.
“I couldn’t be surprised by [Canada’s late push]. Those guys had to make a push; I expected them to make a push. Towards the end it just got away from us and I thought we went away from what was working, which was going into our sets, so we’ll have to tighten up on that next time.”
Triano will now be left with the decision to cut this team of 15 into 12, as Canada looks to compete in the FIBA Americas later this month.