SMNT opens Olympic Qualifying Tournament with 77-69 win over Turkey
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Canada Basketball's Senior Men's National Team began its quest for Rio with an important 77-69 victory over Turkey at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Tuesday.
Cory Joseph's 21 points led the way as Canada moved to 1-0 in Group A at the six-team tournament.
Turkey is the No. 8 ranked team by FIBA, while Canada is No. 26.
“Obviously they're a very good basketball nation and it was a hard fought win...” SMNT head coach jay Triano said.
Canada's starting lineup featured the backcourt of Joseph and Tyler Ennis, along with Thomas Scrubb, Anthony Bennett, and Tristan Thompson, who was making his 2016 SMNT debut, up front.
Thompson and Phil Scrubb each scored 10 points for Canada, while Joseph dished out 5 assists, and Khem Birch led the SMNT with seven rebounds. Sinan Guler was Turkey's top scorer with 14 points. For the boxscore click here.
Canada shot 7/19 from beyond the arc, while limiting Turkey to just 6/26 on three-point attempts. The Canadians were 20/24 shooting free-throws, a fantastic accuracy rate of 83%.
Canada had trailed 12-10 before finishing the opening quarter on an 11-5 run, punctuated by a triple at the buzzer from Phil Scrubb. Continuing to build on that momentum, Canada out-scored Turkey 18-13 in the second quarter to take a 39-30 lead into the break.
Canada started the third with an 11-4 run and was up 50-34. with 3:50 to play. Joseph erupted for 12 points in the quarter, including a pull-up jumper from 16 feet before the period expired to put Canada in front 59-47. Canada enjoyed a double-digit advantage for much of the fourth quarter. After Turkey cut the lead to two possessions at 75-69 with 27 seconds remaining, Phil Scrubb coolly stepped to the line and drained to free throws to ice the game for Canada.
Canada is back in action Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. ET when the SMNT takes on Senegal and can be assured of a semi-final spot with a victory. The tournament champion clinches a spot in the Rio 2016 Summer Games.
“Bottom line is it was a win and it helps us with what our goal is, so we've got to turn around, play again tomorrow, and we have to keep getting better,” added Triano.
For full Olympic Qualifying Tournament roster click here.
Post-game press conferences can be streamed live here. Full tournament schedule can be found here.
TSN will broadcast the tournament in Canada, broadcast schedule here.