Image courtesy of FIBA Americas

The Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) opened the 2013 Tuto Marchand Continental Cup with a tough 78-71 loss to the home side. The fourth edition of the event, played every two years in Puerto Rico, sees teams from the FIBA Americas region compete in a warm-up tournament before the FIBA Americas Championship for Men. The five-team competition will also see Canada face Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Brazil.

Team Canada opened the game well with a strong balanced attack, but Puerto Rican veteran JJ Barea paced the home team with a steady stream of offence. A tight opening quarter was knotted at 18-18 with two minutes remaining, but Barea notched five straight points to put the home side ahead 23-19 after the first. A close second period was once again forced open with a furious final push from Team Puerto Rico. A 12-2 run in the final three-and-a-half minutes saw Canada trail 40-30 at the half.

Mississauga, Ont. native Andrew Nicholson powered a Canadian comeback bid in the third. The forward put his full offensive arsenal on display with a variety of moves en route to a productive 13-point quarter. Puerto Rico’s lead in the physical affair was cut to three at 56-53 after three frames, but the SMNT would get no closer. A determined effort saw the home team go on a 7-0 run to open the final period. The Puerto Rican side would go on to outscore Canada 22-18 to secure the victory.

Nicholson led the Canadians with 21 points on an efficient 9-of-15 shooting performance. Tristan Thompson of Brampton, Ont. finished with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. The SMNT held a slim 37-31 edge in rebounding and the team was able to translate its 11 offensive rebounds into points on the scoreboard. Canada finished with 12 second chance points while holding Puerto Rico to none. The game’s set of statistics are available here.

Team Canada continues the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup on Friday against Argentina, who will be playing its tournament opener. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. (ET). The game can be viewed live online via a paid subscription at