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Team Canada Cory Joseph

Raptors Cory Joseph Dreams Of Going To The Rio Olympics

While the Toronto Raptors Cory Joseph was still fighting to advance in the NBA playoffs he told Pro Bball Report that he would be representing Canada this summer with the hope of qualifying for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Joseph has been there every summer for Team Canada since he was a teenager and he’s arguably been their best player over the past three years. He dreams of bringing the team back to the glory days when Steve Nash took Canada Basketball to the world stage.

It isn’t going to be easy however. There are even fewer NBA players on Team Canada’s preliminary roster than last summer when they just missed qualifying for Rio and this time hope primarily rests on Joseph and the FIBA veterans as reported by Canada Basketball.


“Given the time of year, player availability is always changing. We’re continuing to talk to teams and players may become available as the summer progresses,” said Steve Nash, general manager, men’s national team. “Playing for your country is an honour, we have a deep pool of talent who are committed to playing for Canada and we’re ready to get to work.”

It was inexperience that crushed Canada’s hopes of qualifying in Mexico last year and the team faces many of those same obstacles again. They have enough talent to be competitive, but they’ll have to beat France in the qualifying tournament to advance as reported on

As for Joseph, he recalled: “It was frustrating as we had maybe our worst game of the tournament at the worst moment. Venezuela outplayed us. In this kind of competition, every team is talented and plays with a lot of passion. It was disappointing not to reach the gold medal and clinch a direct spot to Rio. Now, our minds are focused on Manilla. We got to fight for our lives to get a spot to the Olympic tournament.”

“Everyone has the same dream of going to Rio and every game is going to be very competitive. France and Turkey have a lot of experience, but every team is going to Manilla with ambition.

“It’s going to be an exciting tournament. Tony Parker and Boris Diaw are going to be there with France too, that’s going to be an interesting experience.”

It’s a lot of pressure for a 24-year-old NBA backup point guard, but he has elevated his game with Team Canada every summer and this time the team really has no one else to turn to.

“Our talent level isn’t where we thought it might be, but it’s a great chance for these guys, and we have to be really good in a month for four games,” head coach Jay Triano said.

The Olympic dream is still alive, if only on life support, but maybe Nash can use his influence to bolster the roster before the start of the qualifying tournament in the first week of July?



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.





Valanciunas & DeColo

Raptors Jonas Valanciunas And Nando De Colo Are Eurobasket All-Stars

The Toronto Raptors got some good news from the Eurobasket 2015 tournament, starting center Jonas Valanciunas and a player they hold the NBA rights to Nando De Colo were named to the All-Star Five.

Lithuania center Jonas Valanciunas also earned his first All-Star Five Presented by Tissot selection after contributing 16 points and 8.4 rebounds per-game, despite suffering with illness earlier in the competition.

France’s Nando De Colo completed the fantastic five after playing a starring role in the hosts’ run to the bronze medal. The 28-year-old averaged 13.1 Points and 5.2 rebounds per-game as he revelled in the increased responsibly on his shoulders.

Valanciunas was the only NBA player on Lithuania’s roster and was his team’s prime offensive weapon, but De Colo stood out over a bevy of teammates playing in the NBA for France including the Spurs Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, Nuggets Joffrey Lauvergne, Magic Even Fournier and Jazz Rudy Gobert. De Colo led his team in scoring and was third in rebounds and assists.

Valanciunas signed a four year $64 million extension this summer with Toronto. De Colo was acquired by the Raptors from the Spurs two seasons ago but signed in Europe after Toronto made him a restricted free agent by issuing a qualifying offer last summer. Toronto issued another qualifying offer this summer to maintain their player rights.




Jonas Valanciunas Lithuania

Jonas Valanciunas Goes For Gold With Lithuania At Eurobasket 2015

Taking on top-ranked and unbeaten Serbia in the Eurobasket 2015 semi-finals, Lithuania was in tough if they wanted to get to the Gold Medal game and a guaranteed Olympic berth in Rio. However, once again Jonas Valanciunas led his team in scoring with 15 points and 4 blocked shots as Lithuania knocked off Serbia 67-64 in a hard-fought defensive battle.

Valanciunas has become an offensive force for Lithuania this summer using his size and length to dominate offensively and on the glass, however, far too often he has been substituted out of games for defensive purposes as described by Basketnews in their pregame write-up.

Jonas Valanciunas, the only Lithuanian player from an NBA team at the European Championship already has four double-doubles. Valanciunas is criticized for defense, but his offense is the main weapon of the Lithuanian national team. After the monstrous appearance against the Italians he has averaged 17.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. (rough abbreviated translation)

Against Serbia, the game was tough, physical and defensively-oriented and Valanciunas was held to just 26.5 minutes despite his impact at both ends of the court. The big center shot 5-6 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line, but he picked up 4 personal fouls (5 fouls and you’re out by FIBA rules). He had to play defense in this contest.

Serbia epitomizes the tough physical games that FIBA basketball is known for and their own star big man and leading scorer Nemanja Bjelica fouled out. Recently signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves, the 27-year-old Bjelica was held to just 10 points on 3-8 shooting and Valanciunas surprised Bjelica by blocking his shot twice during the same possession.

Lithuania 9-18Boxscore

Eurobasket postgame

“Before EuroBasket 2013 they were saying we had a good team but not great players. When we reached the semi-finals in 2014 [at the FIBA Basketball World Cup] they said we had an easy schedule. I don’t know what they will say now.” – Lithuanian head coach Jonas Kazlauskas

Lithuania will play Spain for Gold in the Eurobasket final on Sunday.



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.





Raptors Jonas Valanciunas Leads Lithuania Past Bargnani And Italy

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas had a huge game for Lithuania in a quarter-finals match against Italy at Eurobasket 2015. Valanciunas posted a game-high 26 point 15 rebound double-double in the 95-85 overtime victory.

A big win for Lithuania was an even bigger win for the Raptors as Valanciunas was forced to cover Italy’s stretch-five Andrea Bargnani for nearly the entire 38.5 minutes both players were on the court. While Bargnani had a team high 21 points, he was held to just 36.4 percent shooting from the field, 1-7 from three-point range and just 5 boards and 0 assists as Valanciunas was effective defending the perimeter, grabbing rebounds and imposing his will on the inside. Valanciunas shot 11-13 from the field, even hitting on a couple of mid-range jump shots in the fourth quarter over a surprised Bargnani.

Ball in Europe’s Emmet Ryan described Valanciunas’ dominance:

Jonas Valanciunas utterly dominated Andrea Bargnani from the start. Here, he was back to his best and laid waste to the Italian center for three quarters.

(Coach) Simone Piangiani however was determined to keep Bargs matched up on Valanciunas. When JV sat, so too did his shadow. When he was in, back came Bargs. Given how one-sided this contest was proving it cut out the Italian advantage inside. Bargs tried to get a little bit chippy inside by JV isn’t the kid he once was. Valanciunas took the first shot and was ready to defend himself the next time Bargnani thought about it. The Italian wisely backed off. At the half Bargnani was getting handily dealt with by JV.

There was nowhere to hide Valanciunas on defense in this game as Bargnani was paired with stretch-four Danilo Gallinari who played over 39 minutes and was the more effective of the Italian big men. Gallinari finished with 17 points on 5-11 shooting, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

This was precisely the type of matchup the Raptors need Valanciunas to become comfortable and effective playing against if he is to start getting the fourth quarter minutes they want him to play in the NBA against small ball and non-traditional lineups.




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.





Team Canada Success Is No Surprise To Steve Nash

While the success of Team Canada is no surprise to general manager Steve Nash, after losing their opening match of the tournament to Argentina, where they eventually ended up after the two preliminary rounds was more than just a little unexpected.

In a surprising turn of events Canada finished first overall after the second round at the FIBA Americas and will face fourth place Venezuela in the semi-finals on Friday. The Canadians had clinched a berth in the semi-finals even before their easy 94-73 victory over previously unbeaten Mexico on Tuesday as both Venezuela and the Dominican Republic lost earlier in the day. Then in their final second round game, Canada scored at will against the Dominican Republic and cruised to a 120-103 win to finish with a record of 6-1. (7-1 counting the win over Cuba that wasn’t carried forward to the second round.)

After Mexico defeated Argentina 95-83 in the final game of the second round with a 17-0 run over the final 3.5 minutes, that record put Canada into a three-way tie for first with Argentina and Mexico, tie-breakers putting the high-scoring Canadians at the top. The reward for being seeded first is a semi-final match with 3 win 4 loss Venezuela, a team Canada defeated 82-62 a week ago. A win on Friday earns Canada a spot in Rio at the 2016 Olympics.

Steve Nash 2015“I feel like this was what I envisioned,” Nash said after learning Canada was through to the semis. “There was moments when maybe I wasn’t sure it would come along this crisply, but I thought this would be the curve. We had a timid game against Argentina where we weren’t very good, otherwise we played well in Puerto Rico, we played well since. I don’t think I’d even go as far as pleasantly surprised, but I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it.

“The sky is the limit. Obviously we have a tremendous amount of talent. We have great depth and balance, but again it is always in the details. I think the biggest thing in this tournament for us is continuing to grow because we obviously on any night we can beat anybody, but we could also get beat, especially in a one-off.

“The only thing we are playing against is experience. When you go and you play one game to go to the Olympics anything could happen for the most experienced teams, so for a precocious team like ours you never know what will happen, but it’s exciting.”



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.




Jonas Valanciunas by Robertas Dačkus with permission (3)

Raptors Jonas Valanciunas To Miss His Next Game

The Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas will miss his next game with his National Team due to an indeterminate illness according to

“Yesterday after training he climbed quite high temperatures, he receives medication, lies at the hotel and hopes that tomorrow he will be able to play. Today – certainly not, “- said Team doctor Vytenis Trumpickas

The doctor described Mr Valančiūnas illness: “He picked up a virus somewhere, where we can not answer, perhaps just after the workout went out and caught a cold, he has a high temperature, feeling ill. We really hope that he will play tomorrow for all possible means, both liquids rebuild, he is lying down, and we believe that tomorrow he will be able to play. How the body responds to the treatment? It is difficult to say. “

Valanciunas scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Lithuania’s most recent game.

Wiggins FIBA

Andrew Wiggins Leads Canada To 94-73 Spanking Of Mexico

Team Canada faced off against unbeaten Mexico and a boisterous crowd in the second round of the 2015 FIBA Americas spanking them 94-73 on their home court. Andrew Wiggins led Canada with 17 points while hitting on all four of his three-point attempts. It was a crushing victory for the visitors that vaulted Canada past Mexico and into second place with an outside shot at the number one seed in the semi-final round depending on the results of Wednesday’s games.

This contest was never in doubt. Canada only trailed briefly 2-0 at the start, was leading by double-digits in the first quarter and was up by 22 points heading into the half. Mexico had no answers for the Canadians as the visitors found themselves frequently unguarded for wide-open jump shots in the first quarter. Then when head coach Jay Triano went to his bench in the second quarter, his reserves piled on, adding another 10 points to the lead before he went back to his starters to close out the half. Canada coasted through the final 20 minutes unchallenged for the easy 21 point win.


Canada 9-8Boxscore

“I just think we are getting more comfortable playing with each other and our players are starting to understand and learn the international game a little bit better because we come from varied backgrounds,” Triano said after the game. “Our goal was to get better with each game as the tournament has gone on and we struggled in the first game of the tournament, but I think we have taken a step every day.”

Canada lost their only game of the tournament to Argentina on their first day of action. Luis Scola doing what he has often done to Team Canada, burying them with a 35 point effort. Now Canada needs Mexico to dig deep Wednesday night and find a way to steal a game from unbeaten Argentina in order to create a three-way tie (Canada-Mexico-Argentina) for the number seed (tie-breakers, if necessary, to be determined.)

Canada plays the Dominican Republic in the second game of the last day in the second round and will have to wait on Argentina and Mexico to finish before knowing their seeding in the semi-finals.



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.





Valanciunas Scola Joseph

Raptors Scola, Valanciunas And Joseph Are Leading Teams This Summer

The Toronto Raptors are watching three of their recently signed key players for next season in leading roles with their respective National Teams this summer. Jonas Valanciunas, Luis Scola and Cory Joseph are playing on teams expected to make some noise in their respective FIBA tournaments and while each player has a pivotal role, their situations couldn’t be more different.

Lithuania, despite its small size in terms of population, has long been one of the FIBA powerhouses that has punched well outside their weight class. However, there is a changing of the guard in this basketball crazed Country, the veterans are starting to retire and young center Jonas Valanciunas is the only NBA player on the team this summer. Not that expectations are any lower this time around.

Valanciunas missed nearly all of his National Team’s pre-Eurobasket preparations as returned to Toronto during the Friendlies to finalize a new long term deal with the Raptors. The move didn’t go well with his National Team’s fans, but Valanciunas has been a major factor in Lithuania winning two of their first three Eurobasket games and sitting in a four-way tie for first in Group D.

Through three contests, Valanciunas has averaged 19.7 points, 10 rebounds and a block in 26.7 minutes. He is shooting 51 percent from the field and 90 percent from the free throw line. Some people even think he looks a little lighter on his feet which could be very good news when he gets back to Toronto. Valanciunas doesn’t want to be tagged as a big, slow-footed center any longer. He is also showing a little more confidence in the jump shot he was working on earlier this summer.


Argentina has been a powerhouse for the better part of a decade and at the FIBA Americas tournament Scola has been the most dominating player. Scola is 35-years-old now, but unlike Lithuania that is breaking in a new star player, absolutely nothing has changed. Once again the Argentine big man is leading the tournament in scoring as he averages 21.9 points and 10.9 rebounds in 31 minutes. He also leads the tournament in free throws attempted (7.4) and made (4.6) by a wide margin.

Scola is Argentina’s go-to-guy and when Argentina does struggle, they simply don’t take him off the court. In their win over Canada, Scola scored 35 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 34 minutes. (FIBA games are 40 minutes long). In the very tight second round match against Uruguay, Scola had 26 points and 13 rebounds in 37 minutes proving he still has the legs to do whatever is necessary to get the win.


Unlike any other team at the FIBA Americas, Canada has an unprecedented depth of NBA talent, although they do have a couple of FIBA tournament veterans that provide something the young NBA talent is still figuring out. However, Joseph is the one NBA player on Team Canada that has been to the FIBA Americas for his fifth time, twice as part of the under-19 squad and this is his third trip as part of the Senior Men’s National Team.

Joseph is Coach Triano’s steadying influence, the guy who’s been here before, fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on how one looks at it – Canada hasn’t struggled much in this tournament. Over their first six games, Canada has outscored their opponent by an average of 23.2 points, so Joseph hasn’t been required to play big minutes.

So far Joseph has averaged 9.7 points (4th on Canada), 3.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 22.2 minutes (3rd most on Canada), but his opportunity to shine may not arrive until the semis and the finals. Joseph has played well and remains a leader for Canada, it has just been hard for any one individual to really stand out with Triano able to divide up the minutes so evenly.




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.




Head Coach Jay Triano close up

Canada Should Defeat Mexico To Secure FIBA Americas Semis Appearance

The two top teams heading into the FIBA Americas tournament were Argentina and Canada, both in Group B. In Group A, Mexico avoided the top teams in the preliminary round to go undefeated, but the easy ride is over for the host nation and they have to face Canada tonight and Argentina on Wednesday to determine seeding for the semi-finals on Friday. With a win over Mexico, Canada will secure their spot in the semis.

The worst Canada can finish if they lose to Mexico today and the Dominican Republic tomorrow is in a three-way tied for third with Dominican and Venezuela. Although that would require the Dominican to defeat Argentina today as well, so that should be put in the remote possibility category. Canada will get their shot at a medal. All that remains is determining what seed they can earn.

In the second round of this tournament, the teams that advanced from Group play cross over to play the teams from the other group and where Canada has demolished Group A teams in their first two second round games, Panama 103-66 and then Uruguay 109-82, Mexico has struggled against Group B.

On Sunday Mexico barely got by Puerto Rico 92-86, a team Canada defeated by 20 points, 112-92 in Group play. Then on Monday, Mexico escaped defeat in the dying seconds 73-70 versus Venezuela as described by FIBA. Another team Canada defeated by 20 points, 82-62.

Mexico closed the day by securing a spot in the semifinals after winning, 73-70, in a game that they were losing for 39 minutes.

Venezuela gave a brilliant fight showing their structure on both sides of the court, however four points from Jorge Gutierrez in the last 9 seconds of the match sealed the win for the hosts.

As head coach Jay Triano and starting point guard Cory Joseph will be sure to remind their teammates, in 2013 Canada was but a win away from guaranteeing themselves a spot at the 2014 World Cup and lost three-in-a-row to see it slip away. Canada doesn’t want to risk a tie-breaker to get into the semis or even a low seed. This time there is a spot in Rio at the 2016 Olympics available and they don’t want to see that opportunity slip through their fingers.



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.



Note: Argentina has defeated Dominican Republic 92-84 today, this guarantees Canada can finish no lower than 4th.

Jonas Valanciunas the beard

Raptors Jonas Valanciunas Leads Lithuania Past Latvia 68-49

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas led all scorers as Lithuania defeated their close rival Latvia 68-49 in their second match at Eurobasket 2015.

Valanciunas scored 15 points, grabbed 7 boards, 2 steals and blocked 2 shots in 22 minutes. FIBA named Jonas Maciulis the game hero for his double-double in 30 minutes of action.

Game Hero: Jonas Maciulis showed a real appetite for the big moments. He scored 13 points off 5-of-10 shooting, a perfect 3-of-3 from downtown, and typified his team’s refusal to accept anything but victory.

The game was close through the first half as Lithuania took a 1-point lead into the break and it stayed close in the third quarter until Lithuania managed an 8-1 run to close out the quarter up 49-39. A 5-0 run to open the fourth quarter sealed the deal as Latvia couldn’t crack Lithuania’s defense. The postgame interviews with summed things up:

Jonas Kazlauskas, the Lithuanian national team coach: “Today we played differently than yesterday, much better defense and we were a real team. In the second half of the game, with a lot of defense and it was very important. I did not expect to win such a difference. Both teams know each other very well, and even some combinations are similar. We know their strengths parts – and they us. Latvians are playing at home and felt the pressure. ”

John Maciulis, Lithuanian striker: “Latvia as a team fell apart after our spurt in the third quarter. I can understand Latvian emotions, because they are playing at home. In this team the fans have high expectations and this match between the Baltic countries, they have great importance.”

“Ronald Freimanis Latvian striker:” I thank the fans have been great to play in such an atmosphere. During the first two quarters we showed a good defense, and all fared well. I find it hard to explain what happened after the break. The Lithuanians were just better. We need to recover from this terrible failure and show character. “




Jonas Valanciunas by Robertas Dačkus with permission (2)

Raptors Jonas Valanciunas Posts Double-Double In Lithuania’s Opening Win

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas is playing for Lithuania at Eurobasket 2015 and he posted a double-double as his team eked out a 69-68 win in their tournament opener over the Ukraine.

Veteran Lithuanian forward Paulius Jankunas led all scorers with 22 points has he stretched the floor hitting on 3-4 three-point attempts, but this game turned into a battle between Valanciunas and the Ukraine’s big man Kyrylo Fesenko with each player finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds as described by FIBA.

the 2013 runners-up (Lithuania) came up against an inspired Kyrylo Fesenko, who went toe-to-toe with NBA star and headline act Jonas Valanciunas, driving his team on in the process. The pair went for 19 points and 11 rebounds each in a back-and-forth tussle, as both showed off an array of post moves and emphatic finishes.

“I thought it was a great battle, a clash of the titans,” the 28-year-old (Fesenko) said of his encounter with Valanciunas.



Check out the full boxscore and game summary where Lithuania head coach Jonas Kazlauskas describes why this game was so tight.

“For us, the biggest problem was that we didn’t play as a team, every one of us was trying to score, to beat the opponent on our own and this was a big problem” – Lithuania head coach Jonas Kazlauskas.

Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins Led a Barrage of Scoring as Canada Wins Again

In their final game of the preliminary round at the FIBA Americas tournament, Andrew Wiggins led a barrage of scoring that overwhelmed Puerto Rico 112-92 as Canada won again to go 3-1 and advance to the second round as the third seed.

It was a very close game in the first half and Puerto Rico was leading 44-35 with 2:15 left to play, but then Canada stepped up the pressure on the glass. The result a barrage of free throws started by Wiggins going 5-5 from the line over a span of 21 seconds, Cory Joseph going 4-6 from the stripe and then with 5 seconds left in the half, Phil Scrubb converting an offensive board by Kelly Olynyk into a two-point bucket to complete the 11-0 run Canada used to take the lead into the break.

“Puerto Rico played well early,” said head coach Jay Triano at the postgame presser. “(They) made some three-point shots. We knew that was part of their game. They are going to be quick up and down the floor.

“I was really pleased with the way our guys responded at half time, even for the last two and a half minutes of the first half. We bounced out of time out, went on a 11-0 run to end the half. We talked about defensive coverages, made some adjustments in the second half and when we did that it kind of blew the game away.”

Canada came out in the second half just as hot as they went into the break, dominating Puerto Rico with a 16-4 run that ballooned Canada’s lead to 62-48. The lead continued to grow and got as high as 23 points. Puerto Rico never really threatened again.


Wiggins led Canada with 19 points. Cory Joseph, Nik Stauskas and Kelly Olynyk had 15 points each. Olynyk and Anthony Bennett had 9 rebounds each as Canada dominated the boards 58-40.

The Dallas Mavericks J.J. Barea had 20 points for Puerto Rico to lead all scorers.


Canada 9-4Boxscore

Canada’s schedule for the second round (w-l preliminaries):

Sun Sept 6 vs Panama (2-2)

Mon Sept 7th vs Uruguay (1-3)

Tues Sept 8th vs Mexico (4-0)

Wed Sept 9th vs Dominican Republic (2-2)

The top four teams Group A play the top four teams from Group B. Then the top four teams after the second round finishes advance to the semi-finals.



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.




Cory Joseph close up

Canada Turns To Cory Joseph To Win Sloppy Over Venezuela

Head coach Jay Triano had been spreading the minutes out early on at the FIBA Americas, but in a sloppy game against Venezuela, he turned to the stabilizing influence of Toronto Raptors new point guard Cory Joseph. The 82-62 final score belies the fact Canada let their opponent get back to within 11 points in the fourth quarter after being up over 20 in a game Canada should have won in similar fashion to the 40-point blowout of Cuba.

Joseph had a strong game, filling the stats sheet and setting the pace for his teammates. Joseph scored 10 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, dished 5 dimes, and picked up a steal and blocked 2 shots in 29.5 minutes of action. Following his lead, Canada outscored Venezuela on the fastbreak 32-11 and in the paint 44-20. Joseph told Basketball Canada he was just trying to be aggressive.

“I was trying to be aggressive, getting to paint and making decisions. I was able to find Kelly a lot early and couple of times to [Anthony Bennett]. I think we did better today, especially on the defensive end. I thought our defence started a lot for our offence,” said Cory Joseph.

However, this was a game Canada refused to turn into a blowout. After opening up a 10-point first quarter lead, Canada started the second quarter in a fog, quickly turning the ball over twice and allowing Venezuela to go on a 5-0 run before Dwight Powell was knocked down with an intentional foul by Colmenares. Powell left the game with an apparent left arm injury. The incident sparked a 6-0 response by Canada, but it didn’t stop the tactic by Venezuela as they racked up three intentional (flagrant) fouls in the first half.

Maybe it was the physical play, but in this game Canada turned the ball over 22 times on 14 steals by Venezuela who turned them into 20 points. It was the only reason Venezuela was ever even remotely in this contest.

Canada dominated this game on the glass 52-33. Shot 51 percent from the field and assisted on 24 of their 30 made field goals. Obviously, several Canadians stood out.

Kelly Olynyk was the tallest player on the court and Venezuela couldn’t stop him inside. It begged the question, why didn’t Canada keep going to him? Olynyk had 14 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, but those 5 turnovers were something he’s got to correct as this tournament moves along and answers the preceding question.

Andrews Wiggins also filled the stats sheet with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and 2 blocks, but he failed to look after the ball as well, turning it over 5 times.

Anthony Bennett posted a solid double-double of 10 points and 10 boards as he was the recipient of a few nice big-to-big passes from Olynyk. Nik Stauskas seems to found his comfort zone in FIBA basketball as he scored a team-high 16 points in 29.3 minutes and hit on 4-5 three-point attempts.

In their last two games Canada has been able to push the pace and play the style of offense Triano wants to see. It’s fast exciting and takes advantage of this team’s talent and youth. Now if they can just find the maturity to look after the ball, they’ll be unstoppable.


Canada 9-3Boxscore

Canada (2-1) plays Puerto Rico (1-2) on Friday at 7 pm ET in their final game of the preliminary round.



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 Wiggins and Nik Stauskas

Wiggins And Stauskas Help Canada Crush Cuba 101-59

As expected Canada took out their frustrations after an opening game loss to Argentina on the hapless Team Cuba 101-59 at the FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico. Canada lead wire to wire and was up by 20 points after the first quarter. Andrew Wiggins and Nik Stauskas led Canada with 15 points apiece as head coach Jay Triano spread the minutes around as evenly as he could between his 12 players.

This game didn’t even reach the heights of a mediocre intersquad game for Canada. The Canadians scored at will, racked up 29 assists on 35 made field goals and outrebounded their opponent 52-34. The Canadians ran for a 36-4 fast break point advantage and controlled points in the paint 46-26. Points off turnovers was 13-0 for Canada. Basically Cuba was overmatched in every aspect of the game.

Canada 9-2Boxscore

Cuba falls to 0-3 and will not advance past the preliminary round. Canada plays Venezuela on Thursday.



Toronto Raptors Luis Scola

You Reach, I Teach, Luis Scola Humbles Team Canada

If the NBA player laden Team Canada has a weakness it’s that they are young and the Argentine veteran Luis Scola was more than happy to teach his inexperienced opponents a few things on his way to a 35 point 13 rebound performance in his team’s humbling 94-87 victory.

Canada may be the favorite at the 2015 FIBA Americas, but Argentina is a close second and Scola has been a Team Canada killer for the better part of a decade. It was no different this time. After a slow start in which Scola uncharacteristically threw up a couple of air balls and shot 2-9 from the field for just 4 points in the first quarter, the FIBA superstar – and Scola has been nothing less than a superstar at this event for years – started taking over. Making the 7′ Kelly Olynyk look like the smaller man on the court, Scola shot 4-6 for 11 points in the second quarter as Argentina eliminated Canada’s 20-17 first period advantage to go into the half up 46-42. Unfortunately for Canada, Scola was only just starting to heat up.

“Scola is a really good player,” said Olynyk during the postgame presser. “He has a lot of stuff to his game. He can shoot the ball, drive and close out. In the post he is real tough to guard, up-and-unders and lots of fakes. He is a guy that you really have to stay disciplined on.”

Argentina runs virtually every offensive set through Scola and the veteran took advantage of his young opponents at every turn. His crafty and somewhat embarrassing (for Canada) play could be summed up by what his did to the burgeoning young superstar Andrew Wiggins in the third quarter. As Wiggins reached to impede Scola’s progress, the veteran changed direction and went inside for the easy layup leaving Wiggins wondering where he had gone. Wiggins wasn’t the only Canadian Scola left standing in disbelief as he scored 18 points and grabbed 5 boards in the quarter. None of the other Canadian players were fairing any better guarding Scola.

“Through their offense, (Scola) touched the ball two, three, four times per possession,” Olynyk said. “It’s tough to guard. We got to guard him with five guys and we didn’t do a great job on him unfortunately.”

This game was close. While Scola was an unstoppable force, Canada has a depth of talent that no other team in this tournament can touch. It wasn’t until Argentina went on a 11-2 run in the fourth quarter aided by three Team Canada turnovers that either team led by double-digits.

Canada did make a lot of noise at the end. Olynyk made a 2-point shot with two minutes to go that started an 8-0 run punctuated by dunks from Anthony Bennett and Wiggins to get to within 4 points, but that was as close as they got.

“The second time we played against Scola and Nocioni, we know they are veteran players,” head coach Jay Triano said. “It was a good experience for us.”

Canada had four players scoring in double-digits. Wiggins and Bennett had 13 points each. Brady Heslip and Olynyk had 11 points each with Olynyk adding 10 boards. However Canada was uncharacteristically outrebounded 48-44 and outscored in the paint 52-44. Plus, turnovers have been a problem for Canada all summer and Argentina turned 13 turnovers into 20 points.


Canada plays Cuba on Wednesday. As Cuba isn’t very good, look for the Canadians to take out their frustrations from Tuesday’s game on them.



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.




Luis Scola faces left

Raptors Luis Scola Dominates In Argentina’s Win Over Puerto Rico

Luis Scola tried to tell the Raptors media that he’s got a lot left to give before heading off to join his National Team and in Argentina’s 91-86 opening win over Puerto Rico at the 2015 FIBA Americas he dominated his opposition. Scola scored a game high 22 points on 56 percent shooting from the field and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds, including a demoralizing 5 offensive boards – just one less than everyone on Puerto Rico. Just to round things out, Scola had a team-high 5 assists.

“I think I can play,” Scola told the media in Toronto. “I feel like my legs are okay. I don’t think I have any limitations. I really work hard, it’s the key to everything and it’s been working for me lately. For the most part I stay healthy. I (spend) a lot of time on it and hopefully I can continue on that path. I expect to be a big part of the (Raptors).”

After his recent performances, the Argentine forward appears to lean towards understatement.  He’s in great shape.

In some ways Scola’s performance on day one wasn’t a surprise. At the Tuto Marchand Cup last week, he led the entire tournament in scoring, rebounding and assists per game. However, this week teams are fighting for a spot at the 2016 Olympics, so there’s a lot more at stake and just like he’s done in past years, Scola took his game to another level.

FIBA struggled to describe just how much Scola dominated this game.

With the inexhaustible talent of Luis Scola …
the fight in the paint area by Luis Scola …
Scola was simply unstoppable


Scola will take on Team Canada next on Tuesday at 3:30pm ET. The game is on TSN4.



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.




Joseph & Wiggins

Team Canada Sets 12 Man 2015 FIBA Americas Roster

The 2015 FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico kicks off today and Canada plays their first game of the preliminary round on Tuesday at 3:30 pm ET. Basketball Canada announced the 12 man roster for the Olympic qualifier as follows:

Anthony Bennett, Aaron Doornekamp, Melvin Ejim, Brady Heslip, Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell, Robert Sacre, Phil Scrubb, Nik Stauskas, and Andrew Wiggins.

22-year-old guard Olivier Hanlan who plays professionally for BC Zalgiris in Lithuania didn’t make the cut from the Tuto Marchand Cup warm-up tournament team that played last week. Head Coach Jay Triano said the preliminary tournament was a good learning experience.

“The Tuto Marchand was a good learning experience for us as we were able to play some very good competition,” said Head Coach Jay Triano after the team went 4-0 in the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “We still have work to do and know the importance of the games in Mexico.”

The only top players Canada is missing at this tournament are Tristan Thompson, in contract negotiations with the Cavaliers, and Jamal Murray, had to return to the University of Kentucky.

TSN will be showing all of Team Canada’s games. Basketball Canada has the complete TV broadcast schedule.

  • Canada vs ArgentinaTuesday, Sept. 1 at 3 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5
  • Cuba vs CanadaWednesday, Sept. 2 at 3 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5
  • Canada vs  VenezuelaThursday, Sept. 3 at 6:55 p.m. ET on TSN4
  • Puerto Rico vs CanadaFriday, Sept. 4 at 6:55 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5

Canada’s opener will feature the Toronto Raptors Cory Joseph facing off against his teammate from Argentina Luis Scola.

The top two finishers at this tournament will secure a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.


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.




Anthony Bennett scrum

Timberwolves Anthony Bennett Finds His Game With Team Canada

It’s been an interesting summer for the Timberwolves Anthony Bennett. Playing a lot of undersized “center” for Team Canada, the 6’8 Bennett seems to have found his game. At the very least he’s been active and effective and those aren’t phrases that have been thrown around a lot with his name attached until recently.

Steve Nash 2015“I think the game is played with a lot more versatility these days,” Team Canada general manager Steve Nash said. “I think it’s very common for teams to play smaller, quicker, more mobile, more versatile at both ends of the floor. Obviously Anthony has a lot of versatility. He can play multiple positions.”

Jay Triano scrum compressed“(Bennett) has arguably been our highest energy guy in practice,” head coach Jay Triano said. “I don’t really try to classify who’s a four and who’s a five, who’s a center and who’s a power forward. We ask our first big down the floor to be the guy who occupies space and looks for something in transition and with his speed and the way that he runs, he is usually the first guy down the floor. Now if you want to call that the four or the five then you can give it a number, but I told him not to worry about numbers, be the first guy down (and) rebound the crap out of the ball. Get it every time that it’s available. I said that will keep you on the floor longer, that will let other people see what type of skills that you have and he has a lot of basketball skills.”

Without a doubt, at both the Pan Am Games and the Tutu Marchand Cup, Bennett has rebounded the crap out of the ball and picked up his share of double-doubles.

The Cleveland Cavaliers should never have taken the Canadian big man first overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. He was coming off an injury and no one except Cleveland thought he would go that high. After a brutally disappointing rookie campaign, the Cavs managed to foist him onto the Timberwolves as part of the Kevin Love trade where things went only marginally better. Bust is a word most often associated with Bennett over his first two seasons, but injuries and competition of playing time have played a big role in that.

He has only averaged 54.5 games and 14.3 minutes in his first two NBA seasons, so the 4.7 points and 3.4 rebounds should be understandable – not that there’s a whole lot of sympathy out the for a first overall draft pick earning over $5 million a season. For the teams he has played for, those results still hurt.

What might signal things could get better is his per 36 minute averages of 11.9 points and 8.6 rebounds. The Cavs couldn’t have got their scouting so wrong that there isn’t actual talent here – assuming he can get and stay healthy.

“The body is healthy,” Triano said after watching Bennett working out with Team Canada. “He is as fit as he’s ever been. He is in great shape.”

At the Pan Am Games in Toronto, Bennett was a major factor in Canada winning their first ever medal at this tournament. Averaging 15.6 points on 56 percent shooting and 9.4 rebounds in 26.4 minutes over the five games, Bennett was the mobile big man Coach Triano envisioned he could be. Bennett even hit on 5 of his 14 three-point attempts, but it was his activity and team-leading rebounding that made him so effective.

In Puerto Rico at the Tuto Marchand Cup, Canada went undefeated and Bennett put in another couple of double-double performances over the four games as he averaged 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 23.8 minutes. Bennett led his team in rebounding once again.

Bennett has looked good with Team Canada this summer, but that doesn’t mean the trade rumors are about to go away or that Minnesota is about to go small and versatile with Nikola Pekovic, Karl Anthony-Towns, Gorgui Deng, Nemanja Bjelica and Adreian Payne all needing minutes. However, for perhaps the first time since Bennett was drafted, we got a taste of what he can do and could become.



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.




Anthony Bennett - croppedTimberwolves Anthony Bennett To Play Center For Canada

 “(Bennett will) probably (play) the four and the five,” Triano said. “I don’t mind him playing the five spot, especially if Andrew Nicholson is spreading the floor as a stretch four. He has got that ability where he, depending on who he is on the floor with, he can be a guy who can stretch the floor or he can roll and do damage inside.”



Andrew Wiggins scrum fl

Wiggins Scores 20 As Canada Goes Undefeated In Puerto Rico

For the second time in four games, Andrew Wiggins led Team Canada to victory at the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup. Canada taking a hotly contested game 78-72 from their previously undefeated hosts Puerto Rico. The Canadians wrapped up this warm-up tournament at 4-0.

Wiggins opened the scoring with a free throw and scored 7 of his 20 points in the initial quarter as Canada got out to the early 19-14 first quarter lead. In perhaps his best game of the tournament, Wiggins finished shooting 8-18 with 2 three-pointers, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and 2 blocked shots.

Canada played exceptional defense over the first half, holding their hosts to just 31 points and taking a 7 point advantage into the break. The lead ballooned to 12 points early in the third quarter on a Nicholson three-pointer, but Canada nearly gave it all away as Puerto turned up the physical play to go on a 13-4 run over 2.3 minutes and eventually tie the game at 57 just before the quarter ended. Head coach Jay Triano told Basketball Canada it was a hard fought game.

“I thought it was a hard-fought game – very, very scrappy. I thought Puerto Rico played extremely well, won a lot of the battles, the 50-50 balls and caused problems for us with their size and speed,” said Head Coach Jay Triano. “In the end, it was a good win for us, we were able to move the basketball well, we played unselfishly and we really defended when we needed to.”

In a wild fourth quarter Canada managed a couple of short runs to regain the lead and no one could score in the final minute as Canada held Puerto Rico to just one shot by grabbing three offensive boards, two by point guard Cory Joseph.

Andrew Nicholson broke out in this game, shooting 6-7 from the field with 4 three-pointers to tally 16 points. Melvin Ejim put up the double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds including 6 offensive boards. Joseph filled the stats sheet with 9 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and a blocked shot.


Canada 8-26-2015Boxscore

The real action gets underway on September 1st when Canada takes on Argentina in their first game of the preliminary round at the 2015 FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico. Their reward for looking this good at the Pan Am games and the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup is TSN will be showing their games (and the entire tournament). Basketball Canada has the complete TV broadcast schedule.

  • Canada vs ArgentinaTuesday, Sept. 1 at 3 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5
  • Cuba vs CanadaWednesday, Sept. 2 at 3 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5
  • Canada vs  VenezuelaThursday, Sept. 3 at 6:55 p.m. ET on TSN4
  • Puerto Rico vs CanadaFriday, Sept. 4 at 6:55 p.m. ET on TSN4 and TSN5

The top two finishers at this tournament will secure a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.



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.




Brady Heslip by MoVernie (edited)

Brady Heslip Leads Canada To Third Straight Win

Brady Heslip netted a game-high 14 points by nailing four three-pointers to lead five different Canadians in double-digit scoring en route to a 86-74 win over the Dominican Republic at the Tuto Marchand Cup in Puerto Rico on Tuesday. With the win, Canada goes undefeated into the final contest against Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

The Dominican Republic proved to be Canada’s toughest challenge so far in Puerto Rico. After a tight first quarter, Canada finally started to break away by riding the hot hand of Heslip who hit three three-pointers during a 14-6 run to close out the half. Canada taking a 48-31 lead into the break and looking to be in complete control.

The two teams traded baskets in the third quarter right up until the final 1 minute and 7 seconds when Dwight Powell, Melvin Ejim and Cory Joseph each turned the ball over in quick succession to hand their opponent a 7-0 run to close out the quarter. The bad play continued for two more minutes into the fourth quarter with turnovers by Aaron Doornekamp and Heslip and then Anthony Bennett bricking a pair of free throws right before the Dominican closed the gap to 62-57 as part of an 11-0 run going back to the third. Basketball Canada reports head coach Jay Triano was searching for a group of guys to respond to the challenge.

“I think both teams got off to a real slow start in the game but we were able to get things going in the second quarter and have a big half time lead,” said head coach Jay Triano. “We let them back in the game. I thought they were more aggressive in their defence and attacking the basket. We found a group of players and our guys responded to the challenge again after letting [a team] back in it.”

It was a group effort that took back the lead for Canada punctuated by a pair of three-pointers by Nik Stauskas as part of an 18-3 run that put Canada up by 20 points with 4 minutes and 21 seconds left in the game. Canada was able to cruise in from there for the victory.

Bennett came up with his second big double-double of the tournament scoring 12 points and taking down 10 boards. Ejim was huge with 12 points of his own plus 9 rebounds. Phil Scrub had 12 points and Andrew Wiggins rounded out the group of double-digit scorers with 11 points.

In what has become a theme for Team Canada at this tournament, they dominated on the glass 52-29.


Canada 8-25-2015Boxscore



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.