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.
Scola has some of the best footwork of any big man playing below the rim in any professional league and it was on full display against the young Canadian front court of Tristan Thompson and Andrew Nicholson. While Canada’s young big men held their own for most of this game, in the third quarter with Canada up 45-39, Scola scored his team’s next 16 points to keep Argentina in this game and close the gap to within 1. Then Argentina scored the next 6 points to close out the quarter up 61-56 and they never let Canada take the lead back.
Argentina used their scouting report on Magic forward Nicholson and double-teamed him on the first possession of the game. The Argentine forwards played Nicholson very physically to keep him out of the paint and it took a while for the young forward to adjust, however, by the end, Nicholson scored 17 points on 8-20 shooting. Not nearly as efficient as he had been throughout most of the tournament, but he worked hard for his points in this game.
Thompson had a good game for Canada with 8 points, 10 rebounds, a block and a steal. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t have the experience yet to deal with a crafty veteran like Scola. Cory Joseph played with a lot of intensity and other than a few wild shots thrown up with more wishful thinking than realism, his efforts were almost enough to help Canada pull this one out. Joseph led Canada with 19 points on 7-16 shooting, but he only had 2 assists to offset his 2 turnovers and his three-point shot deserted him again as he shot 0-4 from deep.
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.
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.
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