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Jonas Valanciunas by Robertas Dačkus with permission

Lithuania Waiting On Raptors Jonas Valanciunas

With the arrival of the Houston Rockets Donatas Motiejunas, the only player Lithuania’s National Team is still waiting on to show up is Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas according to BasketNews. (translated)

“From the National Basketball Association (NBA) summer league, the  Houston Rockets’ Donatas Motiejunas joined the Lithuania men’s team.

Currently, Lithuania is still missing their other National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Jonas Valanciunas. The Toronto Raptors forward will return to his homeland in early August.”

Last summer Valanciunas took a little bit of heat for not rushing over the instant NBA Summer League finished and he isn’t exactly in a hurry this time either.  BasketNews shared a picture on Facebook of Valanciunas and Amir Johnson together suggesting their guy would be back shortly.

“In the meantime, John Valančiūnas has been active with the Amir Johnson. Next week, Valančiūnas should join Lithuanian national team (Translated by Bing)”

 

Lithuania has already played a couple of friendly exhibition games that they won handily, 93-74 over Latvia and 82-51 over Georgia. They play Georgia again on Wednesday and face Finland on August 4th as Lithuania continues their exhibition game preparations for the World Cup in Spain starting on August 30th.

Valanciunas will almost certainly join his National Team sometime soon.
 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Andrew Nicholson

Canada Wins Again Defeating Georgia 83-66

Team Canada improved its record to 2 wins and a loss in Slovenia on Saturday with an 83-66 dismissal of Georgia.
 


 

The Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) was led by CIS player Jordan Baker from Edmonton with 9 first half points as the Canadians took control in the second quarter 25-15 to take a 10 point lead into the break.

Orlando Magic power forward Andrew Nicholson scored 9 points in the second half and finished the game with 13 points and 8 rebounds as Canada built on their lead the rest of the way.

Brady Heslip, who played last year in the FIBA Americas, also had a big second half finishing with a game high 14 points and Junior Cadougan, who didn’t score in the first half, netted 8 points.  The Celtics Kelly Olynyk had 12 points and 6 boards.

 

Canada v Georgia 7-26-2014

 

Canada has a scheduled day off after playing three games in three days and will practice in Slovenia on Monday.  The team will be in Croatia on Thursday to prepare for a set of six games in six days starting on Friday August 1st.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Kelly Olynyk

Canada Wins In Slovenia 80-75 Over Ukraine

Team Canada won for the first time during their 11 game European tour 80-75 over the Ukraine in overtime.

 

Canada jumped out to a quick 28-14 first quarter lead that they carried until the fourth quarter when Ukraine turned the tables with a 24-12 run that sent the game to an extra frame.

It was a much better effort from the Canadians after a tough first outing on Thursday when the jet lagged team fell to Slovenia 92-80.

Canada was paced in the win by a huge outing from Kelly Olynyk who led all scorers with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. FIBA veteran Carl English netted 11 points and 7’2 center Jordan Bachynski had 10 points. Dwight Powell contributed 8 points and 5 rebounds.

Canada v Ukraine 7-25-2014

 

Team Canada plays again in Slovenia on Saturday against Georgia.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

Check out:

Cory Joseph Brings Leadership To A Young Team Canada
“I definitely put a lot on my shoulders as a point guard and as a leader,” Joseph said. “I have to lead this team. I feel that I can be that extension of the coach on the court and I am just trying to lead this team to get Ws.”

Head Coach Jay Triano

Team Canada Loses To Slovenia 92-80

After just three days of practice in Toronto, flying to Venice on Wednesday and hoping on a bus to Slovenia, the Senior Men’s National Team lost the opener of their 11 game exhibition tour on Thursday 92-80 to host Slovenia.

Canada Basketball reports the team was led by Cory Joesph and Jevohn Shepherd with 11 points each. Kelly Olynyk and Andrew Nicholson contributed 10 points each.

“For our first game I thought we competed well”, Head Coach Jay Triano said. “Obviously we have to learn the schemes and how to play better with each other at both ends of the floor.”

Team Canada will obviously be doing a lot of learning on the fly after just three days of practice. They stay in Slovenia to play Ukraine on Friday and then Georgia on Saturday before their first scheduled practice day of the trip on Monday.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

Canada Missing Wiggins, Stauskas, Ennis, Bennett, Thompson
“The guys all really want to be a part of the program, but for various reasons it’s hard to get everybody here at the same time,” Nash said.

 

Team Canada Practice

Steve Nash Is Having Fun Helping Team Canada

Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team General Manager Steve Nash could be seen having a lot of fun hanging out and playing basketball over the three days of practice at the Air Canada Centre. The 18-year NBA veteran was working up a big sweat as he took his young players through drills on the court looking more like the point guard who will playing in the NBA soon instead of a manager or even an assistant coach.
 

Steve Nash audio:


 

Steve Nash & Stephen Brotherston by MoVernie 7-20-2014 cropped“I am just trying to help,” Nash said. “Teach whatever I can after a long career and be a part of their development. The funest part for me is to work with the guys and try to help them with anything they want to try and improve on.”

There are not many general managers out there who can still play pro basketball, so Nash brings a unique perspective to his job and how he sees himself in this role. Nash hasn’t been shy about jumping on the court and using the respect he has built up with Team Canada and in the NBA to get involved with teaching.

“I am not really a coach, but not many guys are getting instructed by guys that are still playing, so it is a little bit different,” Nash said. “After 18-years in the league and still playing I am able to obviously still do some things on the court that I can share with the guys and it’s fun for me and they seem to enjoy it. It is just kind of the cool dynamic of being a general manager while you are still playing.”

It’s obviously fun for Nash. He jumps right into a drill and takes over, showing the players what he wants them to do and perhaps more importantly, how to do it and as Nash has stated, it’s fun.

“Their careers are an incredible source of pride for me,” Nash said. “So to watch them develop and grow and play is huge and to be able to help them a little bit and be a mentor or a sounding board is exciting.”

“They are like a family. They don’t ask for autographs or anything. I’m starting to ask them for autographs.”

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

Check out:

Steve Nash Excited To Mentor Team Canada This Summer
“We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team,” Nash said. “We are going to have to become a team that really comes together, has a great bond and leads together and pushes each other to get better and demands a lot of each other, but at the same time supports one another. We have to build a winning culture here and this is a new project.”

Steve Nash scrum

Canada Missing Wiggins, Stauskas, Ennis, Bennett, Thompson

As Team Canada prepares to head overseas for a series of 11 exhibition games against the top National basketball teams in Europe, they will be missing many of the current and future star players who will be needed next summer in order to win a trip to the 2016 Olympics.

For various reasons Anthony Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Joel Anthony, Andrew Wiggins, Nik Stauskas and Tyler Ennis will not be playing for the Senior Men’s National Team this time around.

Steve Nash audio:

 

General Manager Steve Nash explained the challenge of getting players to come and represent Canada.

“The guys all really want to be a part of the program, but for various reasons it’s hard to get everybody here at the same time,” Nash said. “Maybe next summer when the Olympics are on the line we can get everybody together, but we are talking about so many dynamics – schedules, bodies, what their clubs want, what their teams feel is best for them at this time in their career. Especially in the summer when there is no competition, it is a hard sell to some of their teams, but the guys – even the guys that aren’t on the trip – AB (Anthony Bennett), Tyler (Ennis) came by today. Tristan (Thompson) was here last night. Guys want to be a part of it. I think they realize that this is their program to own and Country to play for and I think we are going to have a great turnout next summer when it really matters and we have enough guys here this summer for it to make a difference.

“Especially with all the U.S. guys going (next summer), teams are going to have a hard time. (They) can’t say no to their superstar going to Team USA, so it is going to be harder to say we don’t want you to play for Canada. The teams get it. It is a great opportunity for everyone and I think we’ll have a chance for our guys to come out next summer.

“Sometimes you have to enter into constant negotiations with all these factors – players, family, agents, clubs, schedules, commitments and obligations, so it’s a moving target at all times and at the best of times.

“I knew when taking the job, the hardest thing would be getting the guys to play.”

Team Canada isn’t devoid of NBA players and future stars this summer. NBAers Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk and Robert Sacre are on the roster and help to emphasize just how deep this team will be in future years. Melvin Ejim, Dwight Powell, Jordan Bachynski might be in the NBA next season or in future years and tie nicely into Head Coach Jay Triano’s assertion that playing for one’s National team against top European talent could help players Team Canada is hoping to develop land professional basketball jobs and better contracts for the upcoming and future seasons.

“If it opens up opportunities for our players to keep playing and become employed as basketball players then it’s a great trip,” Triano said.

Returnees from prior National Team rosters and the team’s current pool of players includes Brady Heslip, Jordan Baker, Junior Cadougan, Owen Klassen, Philip Scrubb, Thomas Scrubb, Jevohn Shepherd and Carl English. The international experience of Shepherd and English will help this summer’s squad immensely and Heslip was surprisingly effective at the FIBA Americas last summer.

It should be apparent that the day is coming when Team Canada will have to cut a player on a current NBA roster and there will be key contributors from this year’s team during next summer’s push for a spot at the Olympics.

“Whatever little bit we get is huge,” Nash said. “Who knows what the actual transference or what the games will be from this tour, but without it you are playing with fire. With it, we have a chance for some core guys to get some invaluable experience and could win us a game or two next summer. Next summer is going to be an incredibly tall task. We got a lot of talent. We got a young team that doesn’t have international experience, doesn’t have experience together, nor experience playing for Jay (Triano) a considerable amount. We are overcoming a lot. Our talent level could help us overcome that, but the chemistry, the culture, the experiences we gain this summer are going to be pivotal for next summer.”

Team Canada will badly miss the experience of Thompson and Anthony plus Bennett, Wiggins, Stauskas and Ennis would have benefitted greatly from playing during this year’s European tour. However, the players who are not going this time are committed to the program and they should be there when the games count next summer. This is their program to own, their Country to represent and will soon be their opportunity to prove just how good they really are to the rest of the world.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

Check out:

Team Canada To Platoon Players On European Tour
“That’s a good question. It is almost like you are in our coaches meeting,” Triano said. “The big thing that we did last year when we went to China and Russia with the student team is we platooned, we put five minutes on and five off and we may look at something like that to start this tour.”  (Full Team Canada schedule of games shown)

Cory Joseph sitting

Cory Joseph Brings Leadership To A Young Team Canada

Canada’s Senior Mens National Team (SMNT) is young, so young in fact that General Manager Steve Nash says, “Guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team.” Cory Joseph is one of those veterans and Team Canada is looking to him for leadership as they head out on an 11 game exhibition series in Europe that starts on Thursday in Slovenia.

Last summer Joseph was a key player for Canada at the FIBA Americas tournament and he showed his potential to takeover games at this level by leading Canada past Brazil in the preliminary round scoring 20 points in a blowout victory.

Joseph has played for the NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs over the past three seasons which makes him one of the more experienced players on this summer’s roster.

Cory Joseph audio:

 

“Definitely try to translate what we did in San Antonio over here,” Joseph said. “Definitely try to bring that same hard work.

“I have learned a lot over my three years at San Antonio. I made great strides in bettering my game and just being professional. They are complete professionals. They take care of their bodies. I’ve learned about that a lot this year, just taking of my body, preparing myself for the game.”

As a point guard and one of the more experienced players, Joseph will be carrying a heavy leadership burden that was not expected of him in San Antonio. However, he feels ready for the role and those games last summer at the FIBA Americas will help a lot.

“I definitely put a lot on my shoulders as a point guard and as a leader,” Joseph said. “I have to lead this team. I feel that I can be that extension of the coach on the court and I am just trying to lead this team to get Ws.

“I am comfortable in the role. I have been doing it all my life in other programs.”

It’s likely that one of the reasons Joseph doesn’t feel as uncomfortable with the international game as other NBA players is how the Spurs like to play and the makeup of that team. The Spurs have a strong international cast of players and ball movement designed to breakdown zone defenses that is second nature.

“(FIBA) is a different style of game, but Spurs kind of play an international style of the game, so not much difference for us,” Joseph explained. “I can’t really explain it, but it’s different. They can just pack in the paint, there is no three-second defensive call, so you have to learn how to attack in different ways. You have to learn how to move the ball and get them on their feet and still be able to get into the paint.”

This summer is all about gaining experience for Team Canada after falling short a year ago and failing to qualify for the World Cup in Spain. Instead of tournament play, the Canadians will have to develop their players over a series of exhibition games that other teams are using as a tune-up for the tournament that starts at the end of August.

“We know that we have a lot of talent, but we haven’t done anything yet, so have to be able to put it together,” Joseph said. “Last year we went down there and didn’t do as well as we wanted to, so we kind of got set back and now we have to get serious. We have to qualify for the Olympics and do well because that is what everybody is expecting of us and that is what we are expecting of us.”

To qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, the SMNT will have to win a spot at a qualifying tournament next summer, so there is a lot of basketball yet to be played by this pool of players selected to represent Canada. However, as Joseph points out, don’t worry, we’re young.

“I’m 22-years-old, you make me sound old,” Joseph said. “I’m a young guy. I’m in good shape. I take care of my body – make sure I sleep well, eat well and I’ll be fine. I’m young.”

It seems like all of Team Canada is young and maybe that is what it will take to fight their way into a spot at the 2016 Olympics.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
 
 

Check out:

Steve Nash Excited To Mentor Team Canada This Summer
“We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team,” Nash said. “We are going to have to become a team that really comes together, has a great bond and leads together and pushes each other to get better and demands a lot of each other, but at the same time supports one another. We have to build a winning culture here and this is a new project.”
 
 

Head Coach Jay Triano close up

Team Canada Is Getting Canadian Players And Coaches Jobs

Playing for Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team can do more for a young Canadian basketball player than just boost his national pride, there are professional jobs to be won as a result of playing for one’s Country. The European tour that Team Canada is about to embark on is a showcase of Canadian talent right in the backyard of some of the best professional basketball leagues outside the U.S. and in the past, Canadians have landed good jobs and better contracts as a result.

Team Canada has a number of players that are on the fringe of making an NBA team, but their game could be even better suited to FIBA rules and there is a very good living to be made playing professional basketball in Europe.

Jay Triano audio:

 

Head Coach Jay Triano talked about some of the players on his team who could be successful overseas.

“I think Melvin Ejim who will be coming in when his team finally loses in Vegas and he can get back here, he played last summer for us and we looked at him and we think that he’s got the body – almost an undersized four with great energy and ability to rebound – so, I think those are the types of players that a lot of European teams really like,” Triano said. “He has a real nose for the ball, but he can step out a little bit as a four man and that is just one guy. Dwight Powell has a chance to make the NBA, but he would be a very good European player if that doesn’t work out for him. Jordan Baker, there’s a guy who played in the C.I.S. (University of Alberta) at Edmonton, but he’s got the big thick body and he’s a bruiser and sometimes (the European) game gets a little more physical so there are a variety of players that can play and hopefully we can show off some of those guys while we are on that (11 game European) tour and get them employed and help them.

“Our big thing is to help these players because if we help them become better basketball players, they can come back and help us become a better basketball nation.

“It’s happened in the past. I think back to the 2000 Olympics and guys that played in the Olympics got jobs because of how well we did in the Olympics and they got better contracts.”

“(The players) get to be seen. They get the experience of playing the international game and the scouts do not have to travel here to find them. This summer, we are going into (the European teams) backyard. If it opens up opportunities for our players to keep playing and become employed as basketball players then it’s a great trip.

Canadian coaches are also benefiting from the visibility and improvement of Team Canada. Triano believes Canada’s success at developing home grown talent will produce job opportunities for Canadian coaches as well.

“Why is Canada all of a sudden developing all of these good players?” Triano said. “I think eventually it will look to the coaches. We got great coaches in this Country as well who are helping develop these players.”

The new era of Canadian basketball includes players destined for the NBA and professional teams around the world and as these players get noticed, the coaches that helped develop them will garner more attention as well. A successful Team Canada program will help land basketball jobs for a lot of Canadians.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

Check out:

Steve Nash Excited To Mentor Team Canada This Summer
“We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team,” Nash said. “We are going to have to become a team that really comes together, has a great bond and leads together and pushes each other to get better and demands a lot of each other, but at the same time supports one another. We have to build a winning culture here and this is a new project.”

Team Canada To Platoon Players On European Tour
“That’s a good question. It is almost like you are in our coaches meeting,” Triano said. “The big thing that we did last year when we went to China and Russia with the student team is we platooned, we put five minutes on and five off and we may look at something like that to start this tour.”
(The full Team Canada schedule of games shown)

 

Jay Triano scrum close up 2

Team Canada To Platoon Players On European Tour

Team Canada is enjoying an overabundance of young exceptional talent for the first time in its history and this presents a challenge for Head Coach Jay Triano and his staff. Most of the roster expected to compete next summer at the FIBA Americas tournament to fight for a coveted spot at the Olympics has little or no high level international experience and this summer’s European exhibition tour is tightly packed. Triano needs to find out what he has, the players all need experience and the organization doesn’t want to overtax their team. It comes down to creating some interesting strategies in order to accomplish all of Team Canada’s goals.

Jay Triano audio:

 

“That’s a good question. It is almost like you are in our coaches meeting,” Triano said. “The big thing that we did last year when we went to China and Russia with the student team is we platooned, we put five minutes on and five off and we may look at something like that to start this tour. Then everybody plays 20 minutes a game and nobody gets taxed with the number of games that we have. We have 11 games in a real short period of time. I believe we have six games in six days (August 1 – 6) in three different countries at one point which is going to be very very tough, so we don’t want to tax these players. We want them to get a feel for the international game without wearing them down. We will manage minutes and probably platoon a little bit to start, find out which five (guys) can play together well and that will help us in the future as well as (help us) coaches.”

Platooning or using a structured method of splitting up the minutes can be an effective strategy to ensure everyone on the roster this summer gets a reasonable amount of minutes and will help to prevent individual players from wearing down on that back-to-back-to-back-to- back-to-back-to-back stretch of games in August. This summer really is all about the experience of playing top teams on the road with the pressure of travel so these young Canadian players will be better prepared next summer when the games matter.

“That’s what this summer is about,” Triano said. “This is a great summer. I know last summer we were a little bit disappointed that we didn’t qualify for the World Championships (in Spain later this summer), but at the same time we knew we had 22 and 23 year old players as our best players on the floor and we needed to get them that international experience and that is what this summer is about. We are going to be playing 11 games. We are going to be playing six teams on their home soil and that is going to be great experience for these young players. We need to go over to Europe and see what the international game is. Get them experience playing for me, get them experience playing the international game and then return to their NBA teams or their club teams and continue to improve. We are still very very infant in who we are as a basketball nation, but that is going to change over the next 2, 4, 6, 8 years.”

Team Canada Schedule:

In Slovenia:
Thursday July 24 vs Slovenia
Friday July 25 vs Ukraine
Saturday July 26 vs Georgia

In Croatia:
Friday August 1 vs Croatia
Saturday August 2 vs Croatia

In Italy:
Sunday August 3 vs Serbia
Monday August 4 vs Italy
Tuesday August 5 vs Bosnia

In Spain:
Wednesday August 6 vs Spain
Sunday August 10 vs Turkey
Tuesday August 12 vs Angola

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

Check out:

Steve Nash Excited To Mentor Team Canada This Summer
“We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team,” Nash said. “We are going to have to become a team that really comes together, has a great bond and leads together and pushes each other to get better and demands a lot of each other, but at the same time supports one another. We have to build a winning culture here and this is a new project.”

 

Nash with Team Canada Officials

Steve Nash Excited To Mentor Team Canada This Summer

The Canadian Senior Men’s National Basketball Team kicked off their summer program at the Air Canada Center on Sunday as they prepare for a jam packed four weeks of practices and games against top teams in Europe. After three days of practice in Toronto, Team Canada will arrive in Venice on Wednesday to begin a tour of friendly exhibition games against Slovenia, Ukraine, Georgia, Croatia, Serbia, Italy, Bosnia, Spain, Turkey and Angola before returning to Toronto on August 13. Now that Canada has a roster loaded with exciting young recognizable talent, getting exhibition games against top European teams isn’t a problem.

General Manager Steve Nash brings his wealth of international and NBA experience at the highest levels to this very young team and the 40-year-old Los Angeles Lakers point guard knows what it’s like to mentor young players.
 

Steve Nash audio:

 

Steve Nash closeup
 

“The whole reason or the primary reason we are here is to get these guys experience before next summer,” Nash said. “It’s a very young team, a team that has very little international experience. A lot of our players that could have big roles with this team haven’t even played at the highest levels internationally. The rules, the refereeing, the competition is completely different and they haven’t played together and that’s huge, so while we have a tremendous talent pool it’s a very difficult task to qualify for the Olympics. Conceivably there is one or two spots in the (FIBA) Americas to win, that could be an incredibly difficult task and our guys need a little experience, someone to give them a chance.”

For Nash and company, the games this summer don’t count for anything. Team Canada is playing strictly for the experience and winning games is well down on the list of priorities for now, but this tour is at a level of competition that even gets Nash excited.

“It is all about the experience,” Nash confirmed. “Obviously you try to win every game, but we are also going to play guys probably a lot of equal minutes, give everyone a lot of experience, try to understand what (Head Coach) Jay (Triano) is asking at both ends of the floor and learn (about) each other and gain experience at the international level. This is about as good a tour as you could possibly imagine, playing in great cities against great teams against top flight competition, so it’s an awesome tour for these guys to get a lot of experience and see the benchmark of top level international basketball.”

Team is so young that the 22-year-old Cory Joseph is considered to be one of the veterans, both in terms of international play and NBA experience. Some very young players are expected to do a lot for Canada very quickly.

“We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for two or three years, those are veterans on this team,” Nash said. “We are going to have to become a team that really comes together, has a great bond and leads together and pushes each other to get better and demands a lot of each other, but at the same time supports one another. We have to build a winning culture here and this is a new project. Every year new guys are coming in because of their ascent and it’s exciting because we have so much talent, but it not easy. These guys are all coming from very young perspectives trying to figure out where they are going with their career and their game, what team and club they are going to, what level they are going to play at whether it’s the NBA or Europe and some of these guys are still in college. That makes it trying in a lot of different ways, it makes the task more difficult, but this is just the start of a project that hopefully lasts decades.”

So all that development Team Canada is about to be going through means Nash and Triano will be doing a lot of teaching and more importantly, overall mentoring. A team full of young players means there will be issues to deal with beyond merely learning the next play and Nash is comfortable that he has been filling that role for years now.

“It’s natural and I think I’ve been a mentor for about 18 years now,” Nash said. “I’m 40 and I’ve been a veteran in the NBA for a long time, so I’ve had a lot of young players play on my teams or under me and I’ll always be there to try to share and help and give back.”

A new era for Canada Basketball is starting and the talent Nash and company has assembled is impressive enough to earn them a tour against the top National Teams in Europe as those teams prepare for the World Cup in Spain. However, it’s too early – or maybe premature – to set expectations in terms of wins and losses this summer as this tour is mostly for the experience. Team Canada is setting their sights on the FIBA Americas tournament next summer and trying to qualify for the Olympics. Nash and Triano have a lot of mentoring to do over the next four weeks and they are beyond excited about it.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 
 

Dwight Buycks 2

Raptors Dwight Buycks Expected To Land Safely With Maccabi

Earlier on Saturday Shams Charnia of RealGM tweeted that the Toronto Raptors were about to release backup point guard Dwight Buycks prior to his contract becoming guaranteed for next season. Sportando then confirmed their earlier reports that Buycks was close to a deal with Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv in Israel.

This move by the Raptors was not completely unexpected after Toronto acquired veteran guard Lou Williams from the Hawks and re-signed guard Grievis Vasquez to a new two-year deal.

Not long after news of Buycks departure from the Raptors was out, Eurohoops tweeted Buycks was indeed headed to Maccabi for next season.

Nikos Varlas reports,

“Dwight Buycks is expected to be cut by the Toronto Raptors, however he already knows where he will continue his career. Not only, as reported earlier, Maccabi Tel Aviv is interested on the player, but there are advanced negotiations between him and the Euroleague champions.”

Prior to joining the Raptors last season, Buycks played with Gravelines in the French Pro A League where he won league MVP honors.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

France Wins Gold At Eurobasket

France defeated Lithuania 80-66 to win their first ever European Championship and the Spurs Tony Parker won the 2013 Eurobasket MVP.

France got off to a fast start behind the hot shooting of the Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum who had 17 points on 6-7 shooting and finished the game on the strong play of Boris Diaw who had 15 points. Batum didn’t score in the second half.

MVP Parker only had 4 points on 2-7 shooting in the first half, but finished with 12 points on 4-6 shooting in the second half, however, France didn’t need a heroic effort from their point guard to win this game. France dominated Lithuania on the boards 42-25 to control almost every aspect of what happened on the court. Parker was also named to the All-Tournament team.

Linas Kleiza led Lithuania with 20 points, but he only had 4 points in the second half. Kleiza was named to the All-Tournament team after the game. Mantas Kalnietis scored 19 points for Lithuania in the loss.

Lithuania didn’t collect a single offensive rebound in this game until Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas subbed in Jonas Valanciunas with 7:25 left to go in the fourth quarter. Kazlauskas had only played Valanciunas for 3.5 frantic minutes in the second quarter before this. Valanciunas collected 3 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in the fourth quarter, but the game was well out of hand at that point.

It was a great team effort from France throughout the game. France had the normally strong Lithuanian defense in disarray and out hustled their opponent for rebounds and loose balls to earn the victory.

France defeated host country Slovenia and arch-rival Spain on their way to the Gold.

France vs Lithuania Gold Medal Game boxscore

Spurs Tony Parker Should Win MVP At Eurobasket

The San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker led France past Spain in OT in the semi-finals at Eurobasket on Friday to book his team’s spot in the Gold Medal game on Sunday at 3pm ET and based on his play at the tournament, he should be the easy winner of the 2013 Eurobasket MVP.

Parker is the only player in the top 5 in scoring at the European Championship that made it to the second round.

Bobcats Jeffrey Taylor played 5 games for Sweden in the preliminary round and averaged 21.2 points per game shooting 46.8 percent from the field to lead all scorers. The Charlotte small forward showed what he could do as the go-to-guy and the Bobcats should be excited to see what last year’s rookie can bring to the team this season.

Bosnia and Herzegovina featured the Nets Mirza Teletovic (second at 21 points per game) and Nihad Djedovic (fourth at 17.8 points per game) but they were eliminated in the preliminary round after 5 games as well. Teletovic scored in bunches, but he shot 38.6 percent, so the message he sent to the Nets is not as clear as what Taylor provided Charlotte.

Bo McCalebb averaged 17.6 points per game for Macedonia over 5 games to hold down fifth in scoring.

With only the Gold Medal game left to go in the tournament, Parker has averaged 19.7 points per game and if his clutch quarter-final and semi-final performances are any indication, he will finish this tournament averaging over 20 points. Parker scored 27 points against host country Slovenia in the quarter-finals and 32 points versus Spain in the semi-finals. France wouldn’t be in the Gold Medal game without Parker and without him, it’s unlikely they would have even made the medal rounds at all.

France shouldn’t be such a one-man show at the offensive end of the court. They have a roster loaded with current and former NBA talent. Parker is playing with Spurs teammates Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo and joined by the Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum. Mickael Gelebale played with the Timberwolves and Johan Petro played with Hawks last season. Center Alexis Ajinca has previously played with Bobcats, Mavericks and Raptors.

However, the five-time NBA All-Star Parker at 31-year-old is the heart, soul and mentor for France and he appreciates that the Spurs organization permits him to play for his National team according to Mark Woods and the player interviews on ESPN.

“They know that I love playing for my country,” Parker said. “I take a lot of pride playing for France. I’m just happy that I have the Spurs organization to let me do that.

“I try to teach the young guys on my team. I try to explain how every detail is very important.”

After the semi-final game, the Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio who plays for Spain described what Parker means to his team.

“France has a good team, a great generation with Tony Parker leading that generation. There is no secret (to guarding Parker), it is almost impossible. For me, he is one of my idols. I love the way he plays. It is hard to stop him, but it is a team effort, not only one guy can stop him. A center and a wing are going to help a lot.”

Lithuania defeated France in the second round 76-62 by holding Parker to only 11 points, so the Gold Medal game provides the NBA All-Star a chance to redeem himself in the biggest game of the tournament. However, the Eurobasket organizers should already have Parker’s name on the MVP award no matter what happens. No one has put in bigger performances when it mattered or been more important to his team’s success throughout the tournament.

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report. You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Lithuania Goes For Gold AT Eurobasket

Lithuania booked their spot in the Gold medal game at Eurobasket on Sunday against either Spain or France by defeating Croatia 77-62.

Lithuania went 3-3 from three-point range to start this game and managed at 24-19 first quarter lead on 12 points from veteran Linas Kleiza. It was Kleiza holding the Lithuanian offense together at the start as he had 17 points in under 11 minutes to help his team get out to 29-20 lead early in the second quarter.

As Kleiza tired, Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas subbed in Donatas Motiejunas and Jonas Valanciunas and the Lithuanian offense slumped permitting Croatia to tie the game at 31. However, unlike in previous contests where Kazlauskas was quick to sub-out Valanciunas on mistakes or a change in momentum, the coach left his big man in the game and kept running plays through the post. Valanciunas rewarded his coach with 3 blocked shots and 6 points on 3-3 shooting to help Lithuania reclaim a 40-37 lead at the half.

Kazlauskas started the veteran Darjus Lavrinovic at center and replaced him with Robertas Javtokas in both the first and third quarters before going to Valanciunas to close out each half. The two older veterans played the classic “old man” game of being in the right spot at the right time on defense as both Lavrinovic and Javtokas play mostly below the rim. They were instrumental in frustrating Croatia early and then Valanciunas came in as the shot blocker to close down the paint. Valanciunas finished with 5 blocked shots in 20 minutes of action today.

Lithuanian small forward Jonas Maciulis led all scorers with 23 points on 4 three-pointers and 7-9 free throws. Linas Kleiza ended up with a 22 point 11 rebound double-double. Point guard Mantas Kalnietis had 18 points on 7-15 shooting.

Bojan Bogdanovic led Croatia in scoring with 15 points on 5-15 shooting. Former Raptors point guard Roko Leni Ukic led Croatia with 7 rebounds and 5 assists but shot 0-7. Croatia hit on just 35.4 percent from the field and they threw bricks from the three-point line, finishing with just 3-20 from deep.

This game got out of control when Lithuania went on an 18-3 run over the first 7.5 minutes of the third quarter to build up a 58-40 lead that Croatia had no answer for.

Rock Buračas of Basketnews reported Kazlauskas was proud of his team.

“I am happy and satisfied, “Kazlauskas said. We understand that there is still another step, but today I am proud of the team and the all men in the game. They gave everything on defense.”

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report. You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

2013 Eurobasket Semi-Finals Are Set

The 2013 Eurobasket quarter-finals wrapped up today after Lithuania hung on against the overachieving team from Italy 81-77 to set the semi-final matchups on Friday. Spain, France, Croatia and Lithuania have all punched their tickets to the 2014 World Cup in Spain by advancing to the medal rounds. Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Italy will have to battle it out to determine the fifth through eighth seeds. The top six teams excluding Spain will qualify for the World Cup.

The quarter-finals started on Wednesday and Spain crushed Serbia 90-60 behind 22 points from Sergio Rodriguez and 19 points from Rudy Fernandez. Then France held off host country Slovenia 72-63 on the back of 27 points from the Spurs Tony Parker. The Suns Goran Dragic had 18 points to lead Slovenia.

On Thursday, Croatia got back to the semi-finals for the first time in 18 years by defeating the Ukraine 84-72. Shooting guard Krunoslav Simon had his best game of the tournament, scoring 23 points to lead both teams. American born Eugene Jeter had 19 points for the Ukraine. A short time later Lithuania came back from a third quarter deficit to hold Italy scoreless for almost 6 minutes to start the final frame and take a 72-58 lead that Italy couldn’t overcome. The Spurs Marco Belinelli led all scorers with 22 points and piled in 10 points in the final 4 minutes to almost pull this game out. Renaldas Seibutis and Mantas Kalnietis each had 17 points to lead Lithuania. The Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas played 11 minutes and had just 2 points and 1 rebound in this perimeter-oriented game.

It appears Italy did Lithuania a huge favor by pulling out that come-from-behind overtime win over Spain on Monday in the second round that enabled second place Lithuania to avoid Spain in the quarter-finals. Now Lithuania can’t be tested by the most dangerous team in the tournament until they play for a medal.

On Friday Lithuania plays Croatia followed by Spain versus France to determine who plays in the 2013 Eurobasket gold medal game on Sunday.

Spain vs Serbia boxscore

France vs Slovenia boxscore

Croatia vs Ukraine boxscore

Lithuania vs Italy boxscore

Lithuania Defeats the Ukraine 70-63

Lithuania defeated the Ukraine 70-63 on Sunday to finish in second place in Group E and advance to quarter-finals action next week at the 2013 Eurobasket in Slovenia.

The Ukraine had shocked Serbia with an 82-75 win over their higher-rated rivals on Friday and they were not about to let Lithuania coast into the quarter-finals either.  This was a 2-point game at the half, a 2-point game after three-quarters and a 1-point game with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter.  Then Linas Kleiza hit his second three-point shot of the contest to put Lithuania up by 4 points and all of the remaining scoring in the game came at the free throw line.

Kleiza led Lithuania in scoring with 15 points on 4-15 shooting from the field.  The Rockets Donatas Motiejunas was second in scoring with 10 points and the Raptors Jonas Valanciunas had 2 points and 2 rebounds in 13 minutes of action.

Sergii Gladyr led the Ukraine in scoring with 18 points.  The Phoenix Suns Viacheslav Kravtsov is Ukraine’s only active NBA player and he had a team high 9 rebounds.

Lithuania will play the third place team in Group F on Thursday September 19.  They will not know who their opponent is until Monday, however, there is a good chance it will be the winner of Spain vs Italy.

Lithuania vs Ukraine boxscore

Valanciunas Taken to Hospital After Double-Double

Jonas Valanciunas by Robertas Dačkus with permission (3)Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas collected his third double-double at the 2013 Eurobasket in Slovenia on Friday and he did in just 12.5 minutes of action after receiving a minor cut to the head.

Valanciunas entered the game late in the first quarter against Belgium with Lithuania clinging to an 11-10 lead and immediately grabbed his first rebound. A minute later Valanciunas was attempting a layup at the other end. He missed that shot but collected his own rebound and was put on the free throw line for his first two points of the game. Lithuania was up 18-12 after one quarter.

This game got quickly out of control as Lithuania built a double-digit lead that expanded to over 20 at the half and 34 in the third quarter. Valanciunas scored 10 second quarter points in 5.5 minutes to lead the rout and returned to close out the last 4:20 of the third quarter with 4 defensive rebounds to record a 12 point 10 rebound double-double.

Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas also feasted on the overmatched Belgium team, scoring a team high 13 points. 23-year-old forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who has been unexpectedly putting on a show for Lithuania at Eurobasket, had 12 points and 8 rebounds in another effective outing.

Lithuania won this game 86-67, but the score doesn’t reflect how bad this beat down was. At the end of the third quarter, Lithuania led 69-35 and they literally coasted home.

Jonathan Tabu-Eboma led Belgium with 15 points.

This is the third time Lithuania has defeated Belgium this summer. In two friendly games in August, Lithuania won 86-61 and 66-53. Except for the last 5 minutes, Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas was happy with his team’s offense and defense, but there really isn’t anything Lithuania can take away from this game besides the victory.

Valanciunas was cut on a foul to the back of the head in the first quarter, however, he made his free throws after the foul before being subbed out and played limited minutes in the second quarter and in the second half. Local TV is reporting Valanciunas was taken to hospital after the game to stitch up his injury. He is expected to practice with his team on Saturday.

Lithuania plays the Ukraine on Sunday.

Lithuania vs Belgium boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report. You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Lithuania Upsets France 76-62

It was a different team from Lithuania that played on Wednesday in their first game of the second round and they upset a high scoring team from France 76-62.  The effort was better defensively from the Lithuanians, however, France did help out their opponent’s cause by shooting themselves out of this game instead of taking advantage of their athleticism.

Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas got the faster pace game that he likes to play, but fortunately, Lithuania went inside on drives and passes more often and more effectively than France.  The end result was Lithuania won this contest from the free throw line as they sunk 19 of 23 attempts compared to 5 of 9 for France.  Both teams shot poorly from outside, even though it didn’t appear to dissuade either of them from continuing to jack up unnecessary three-balls, Lithuania hit on 5-19 and France was 5-21 from long range.

Martin Pupininkas Basketnews.lt reported on Kazlauskas comments after the game.

“I am very pleased to have won a game at the European Championship against one of the strongest teams,” Kazlauskas said. But we know that it has just begun.  We have to forget this victory and think about our other opponents.

“We knew that the French have averaged 80 points during the tournament and this time we allowed them just 62 points. Today we are really satisfied that we have followed the game plan, satisfied that we did it from the beginning to the end.”

Linas Kleiza led Lithuania in minutes with 36 and plus/minus at 20 on 2-9 shooting for 11 points to go with 7 rebounds and 3 assists.  Kleiza sunk 2 of Lithuania’s 5 three-pointers.

Jonas Valanciunas scored 13 points on 6-6 from the field in 16 minutes together with 6 rebounds, a block and a steal and the game turned late in the first quarter after Valanciunas was subbed in with the score 10-9.  He came out 3 minutes into the second quarter with his team up 22-12.  Valanciunas provided Lithuania a presence in the paint that France simply couldn’t handle.

Renaldas Seibutis led Lithuania in scoring with 15 points.  The 23-year-old forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas provided some excitement with his runs to the rim as he scored 10 points.

France literally shot themselves out of this ball game as they only hit on 40 percent of their field goal attempts.  Nando De Colo led France with 12 points, Tony Parker had 11 points, Alexis Ajinca 10 points and Nicolas Batum 8 points.

Lithuania should be happy with the win and Kazlauskas can be happy with the executed game plan, but this team can’t afford to be hoisting close to 20 three-pointers a game and expect the same result every time.  They just do not shoot the ball from range well enough and before this tournament is over, they will play teams that hit their shots from distance.  Lithuania got lucky France’s shooters were cold or today’s game could have turned out very differently.

Lithuania road to the next round gets a little easier temporarily.  They crushed Belgium twice in friendlies at the beginning of August and will play them again on Friday.  On Sunday, Lithuania plays the Ukraine who just lost by 34 points to Latvia.

Lithuania vs France boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre.  A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.  You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

Team Canada standing pregame by MoVernie

Every Team Canada Game From Toronto To Caracas

The Canadian Senior Men’s National basketball Team had a busy summer starting with a pair of exhibition games in Toronto against Jamaica followed by a four game warm-up tournament in Puerto Rico and ending at the FIBA Americas in Caracas, Venezuela.

Despite fielding a very young roster, Canada had a chance to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Spain and they almost pulled it off.  This is a quick rundown of every game Canada played with links to the full story.

Jack Donohue International Classic in Toronto

Poster for Canada v Jamaica by MoVernieCanada Defeats Jamaica In Basketball Classic

After numerous days of practice at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the Canadian Senior Men’s National basketball Team finally got into game action against Team Jamaica on Thursday. Canada won a tight, exciting, physical contest by a score of 81-72.

After the game, Head Coach Jay Triano was happy with the victory, but he knows there is still plenty of work to be done, especially for the NBA players such as Tristan Thompson, Andrew Nicolson and Cory Joseph who need to make the adjustment to International Rules.

“You can see Tristan was a bit frustrated out there,” Triano said. “(He is) still trying to learn the International rules, but he will figure things out, veterans guys who have lots of international experience will help our young groups of guys.”

Canada vs Jamaica Thrill in Basketball Classic

Jamaica controlled both the pace of the game and the scoreboard at Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre and it wasn’t until the final moments that Canada was able to thrill the big crowd and pull out the come from behind 77-72 victory.

“Andy (Rautins) is a scorer and we needed points,” Head Coach Jay Triano said. “We had planned on before this game to not play him in the first half of the game and he and Brady (Heslip) knew that. We needed to take a look at other guys and in the second half, if they stayed zone, we knew that those two guys would get a chance to play.

“I don’t mind (playing Rautins and Heslip together). I think it really spreads the floor and if teams play zone, it is really going to open things up inside for Tristan to rebound and flash and Andrew to do things and if they don’t, those two guys (Rautins and Heslip) are very capable of scoring from the perimeter.”

Playing these zone-busting guards also opened the floor for center Joel Anthony who had 6 points and 4 rebounds in the 4th quarter.

Tutu Marchand Continental Cup in Puerto Rico

warming-up Tristan Thompson by MoVerniePuerto Rico Defeats Canada In Warm-Up

Timberwolves J.J. Barea had 23 points and 8 assists to lead host country Puerto Rico to a 78-71 victory over Canada at the Tutu Marchand Continental Cup.

Andrew Nicholson led Canada with 21 points on 9-15 shooting and Tristan Thompson had a double-double 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Scola Schools Canada In Puerto Rico

It was too much Luis Scola for Team Canada as the veteran Argentine power forward scored 25 points in his team’s 83-74 victory.

Canada was led by Nicholson who had 17 points going 3-3 from deep and Tristan Thompson who just missed another double-double finishing with 16 points and 9 rebounds, but Canada lost this game in the paint where they were outscored 20-12 and from the three-point line.

Thompson 21 and 11, Canada Still Lost

Tristan Thompson played 32 minutes and recorded 21 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough and Canada lost to the Dominican Republic 74-68.

Brady Heslip and Andy Rautins each finished with 11 points, shooting 4-12 and 4-10 respectively.  The Spurs Cory Joseph and the HEAT’s Joel Anthony didn’t play for Canada in tonight’s game.

Cory Joseph Scores 20 In Loss To Brazil

San Antonio Spurs backup point guard Cory Joseph scored 20 points for Canada in Monday night’s loss to Brazil 77-70 at the Tutu Marchand Continental Cup.  Canada finished the warm-up tournament for FIBA Americas with a 0-4 record after losing to Puerto Rico, Argentina and the Dominican Republic earlier.

Nicholson scored 17 points on 6-12 shooting and Brady Heslip had 14 points on 5-10 shooting.

FIBA Americas in Caracas, Venezuela

Cory Joesph by MoVernieCanada Wins On Big Game From Cory Joseph

Canada defeated Jamaica 85-64 in their first game at the FIBA Americas tournament in Caracas, Venezuela on Friday behind big efforts from Cory Joseph, Brady Heslip, Levon Kendall and Tristan Thompson.

Joseph nearly recorded a triple-double with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists.  Heslip ended up tied with Joseph for the team lead in scoring with 17 points.  Levon Kendall was effective off the bench for Canada with 13 points on 6-7 shooting to go with 8 rebounds.  Tristan Thompson finished with an 11 point 12 rebound double-double.

Canada Collapses in Fourth, Puerto Rico wins

Canada had fought their way back from a first half deficit to an early third quarter lead and trailed by one heading into the fourth quarter, but it all went wrong from there. Puerto Rico won this game going away 83-67 in a fourth quarter blow out.

Nicholson led Canada with 21 points, scoring 10 in the second half. His team looked lost offensively without him on the floor.  Tristan Thompson had 20 points and 9 boards in a losing effort, but aside from Nicholson and Thompson, the rest of Team Canada was flat and shot a collective 11-42.

Cory Joseph Leads Canada Past Brazil

Cory Joseph had a monster game as he led Canada past Brazil in a blow out that started late in the second quarter and ended in a 91-62 laugher.

Joseph had scored 20 points in a loss to Brazil last week in Puerto Rico and he proved the Brazilian guards still couldn’t cover him when it counted, finishing with 28 points on 10-15 shooting.  He just missed the double-double by grabbing a game-high 9 rebounds.  Veteran FIBA guard Jermaine Anderson also had a big day with 14 points on 6-9 shooting.  Big men Tristan Thompson and Andrew Nicholson who led Canada yesterday against Puerto Rico were much quieter today finishing with 7 points and 13 points respectively.

Canada Crushes Uruguay 93-67

In a game that was never in doubt, Canada crushed Uruguay 93-67 after having wait over 8 hours to play because of a blackout earlier in the day. Canada grabbed the lead early and worked their way up to a double-digit advantage just over 4 minutes into this contest.

Cory Joseph was still hot after his big game against Brazil and finished with an impressive 17 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. Tristan Thompson had 14 points and 7 rebounds, showing off a couple of massive open court dunks. Levon Kendall came through off the bench to help maintain Canada’s huge lead in the second half, scoring 13 points to go with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocked shots.

Cory Joseph Leads Canada Past Mexico

Cory Joseph led Canada past Mexico 89-67, the young guard finishing with 17 points on 6-12 shooting, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. The FIBA Americas tournament has been quite the coming out party for the Spurs backup point guard.

This game was a remarkable display of long range shooting as Canada went 16-28 from deep led by Heslip (5), Rautins (4) and Joseph (3).  Rautins (19 points) and Heslip (21 points) put on a show from long range in the second half.

Canada Wastes 20 Rebounds From Tristan Thompson

Canada had their chances, but they wasted a 12 point 20 rebound performance from Tristan Thompson and lost 64-59 to host country Venezuela at the FIBA Americas.

Canada dominated the glass in this game 40-24 behind Thompson’s big game and while neither team shot the ball well, Canada was absolutely brutal from beyond the arc, hitting on just 4-25 three-point attempts.

Cory Joseph scored 14 points for Canada.

Andrew Nicholson Magic Not Enough For Canada

Magic forward Andrew Nicholson came out on fire for Canada in Saturday’s game against the Dominican Republic, but even his 29 point performance wasn’t enough as Canada went cold down the stretch for the second game in a row to fall 81-74.

Tristan Thompson had another solid game with 14 points on 5-7 shooting, 6 rebounds, a block and a steal.   Cory Joseph had 13 points on 50 percent shooting Brady Heslip had the long range bomb falling today, hitting on 4-5 attempts from deep and scoring 12 of Canada’s 14 bench points.

Luis Scola Eliminates Canada At FIBA Americas

Canada wanted this game badly and they played like it, but they had no answer for the three-time FIBA Americas MVP Luis Scola as the 33-year old FIBA and NBA veteran poured in 28 points to eliminate Canada from the medal rounds at the FIBA Americas in Caracas, Venezuela on Sunday.

Nicholson scored 17 points on 8-20 shooting.  Thompson had a good game for Canada with 8 points, 10 rebounds, a block and a steal. Cory Joseph played with a lot of intensity and led Canada with 19 points on 7-16 shooting.

It wasn’t for a lack of effort, but Canada lost 73-67 and only scored 11 fourth quarter points. Canada lost their last 3 games in a row to be eliminated from the medal rounds at FIBA Americas. With the win, Argentina moves on and automatically qualifies for the 2014 World Cup in Spain.

Mirza Teletovic scored 31 For Bosnia and Herzegovina

Brooklyn Nets power forward Mirza Teletovic scored 31 points against Lithuania in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 78-72 win on Monday, but it wasn’t enough as they needed to win by 10 points to advance to the second round.

Teletovic shot 10-20 overall and 6-15 from the three-point line to stretch the Lithuanian defense and Bosnia and Herzegovina kept the game at a frenetic pace to keep away from Lithuania’s strength inside. Lithuania’s Head Coach Jonas Kazlauskas response was to play small ball in an attempt to match up with his opponent and Linas Kleiza stepped up with 20 points and 10 rebounds. However, fast paced small ball has been the Achilles Heel of Lithuania this summer and in both the friendly games and the tournament, teams that gotten Lithuania out of their half court sets in into the open court have enjoyed success.

“[Our big men] are our strength, and we have to use it,” Jonas Maciulis said after the victory over Macedonia. “In the last game versus Serbia, we were shooting three-point shots, we didn’t play through our big guys. We have to do what we were doing all the time in the friendly games before the tournament.”

Lithuania doesn’t have the outside shooting and athletic guards and wings to take on some of the better shooting and quicker teams and that was apparent again in Monday’s loss.

The Lithuanian big men that have been key to the team’s victories this summer were nailed to the bench against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Jonas Valanciunas only played 7 first half minutes. Ksistof Lavrinovic and Darjus Lavrinovic played 5 minutes and 12 minutes respectively and Donatas Motiejunas played just 8 minutes. Robertas Javtokas played 16 minutes, but the respected veteran center hasn’t shown any semblance of an offensive game this summer and has limited ability to defend the three-point line.

In Lithuania’s two losses in the preliminary round, it seemed like Kazlauskas had been out game-planned by the opposing coach and couldn’t find a way to get back to his team’s strength. His team’s second round opponents are sure to have the scouting report about what has been successful against Lithuania and Kazlauskas will need to find an answer to this problem soon.

Teletovic enjoyed a strong tournament for Bosnia and Herzegovina and averaged 21 points and 7.6 rebounds over 5 games. He made 34.9 percent of his 43 three-point attempts during the tournament.

Small forward Nihad Djedovic scored 20 points on 7-12 shooting to go with 4 rebounds and 4 assists against Lithuania. The 23-year-old averaged 17.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Eurobasket and is someone to watch this season.

Lithuania advanced to the second round with a 3-2 record and plays France on Wednesday. France is lead by three members of the 2013 NBA Finalist San Antonio Spurs with Tony Parker, Nando De Colo and Boris Diaw as well as the Portland Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum.

Lithuania vs Bosnia and Herzegovina boxscore

Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.

You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors