Image courtesy of FIBA Americas
The Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) fell 83-67 to Puerto Rico in game two of the FIBA Americas Championship for Men. The loss squares Canada’s record at 1-1 after Friday’s tournament-opening 85-64 victory over Jamaica.
The match opened as a tight defensive contest as both sides began cautiously. A back-and-forth period ended with Puerto Rico ahead by six at 19-13. Team Canada battled back in the second through hard work and determination. The SMNT closed the gap to a single point, but Puerto Rico bounced back with a solid response. The Canadians went on to outscore Puerto Rico 24-21 to trail 40-37 at halftime.
A resilient Canadian side crafted a quick answer as the team began the second half with a 13-6 stretch to build a 50-46 lead by the midway mark of the period. The tightly-contested quarter saw the score knotted six times and the lead change hands eight times. At the end of 30 minutes, Puerto Rico clung to a slim 59-58 advantage.
An early foul in the fourth to the Canadian bench seemed to spark the Puerto Rican side; then with 6:21 left in the contest, Mississauga, Ontario’s Andrew Nicholson fouled-out of the game and the tide seemed to turn in Puerto Rico’s favour. The opposition went on a decisive 11-0 run and held-on to secure the victory.
Team Canada was led in scoring by Nicholson, who ended the afternoon with 21 points and seven rebounds. Brampton, Ont. native Tristan Thompson finished one rebound shy of a double-double to go along with his 20 points. Syracuse, N.Y. product Andrew Rautins added seven points and eight rebounds as the Canadians held a 42-32 advantage on the boards. The game’s statistics are available here.
“Puerto Rico is one of the strongest teams in this tournament,” said head coach Jay Triano when asked about the opposition’s play. “We competed hard and grinded for three quarters, but it was tough going into the fourth. Their experience showed; their three veterans displayed what they are capable of. We now have to bounce back and focus on tomorrow. It’s a long tournament with eight games in ten days.”
The SMNT will face Brazil on Sunday with tip-off set for 11:30 a.m. (ET). The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360. Brazil had a practice day following a 72-65 loss to Puerto Rico to open the competition. The top four finishers in the tournament will secure berths to the 2014 FIBA World Cup.