Andrew Wiggins led Canada past Argentina 85-80 in the opener of the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup in Puerto Rico on Sunday, scoring 18 points in 26 minutes of action. Head coach Jay Triano giving his starting point guard Cory Joseph the day off and going 11 deep into his 12 man roster.
This was a big test for Canada as they’ll face Argentina again in their opener at the 2015 FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament on September 1st and the young squad stood up well against a team featuring two of the more dominant veteran forwards playing international ball, the 35-year-olds Luis Scola and Andres Nocioni.
Argentina didn’t pull any punches with their veteran leaders. Scola played 30 minutes, scored a game high 23 points and added 8 boards, 2 steals and a block. Nocioni matched Scola in scoring with 23 points in 27 minutes.
Canadian head coach Jay Triano spread the minutes around, but holding back on some of his big offensive weapons from prior years like Andrew Nicholson (9 minutes) and Joseph (DNP-CD). However, he continued promoting the development of the NBA’s most maligned former number one overall draft pick Anthony Bennett as his versatile big man racked up 10 points and 13 rebounds in 33 minutes. This summer under Triano has been a boost to Bennett’s reputation. Basketball Canada reports Triano was pleased with his team’s first game.
“That was a very good first game for us. Argentina is a good basketball team, they stayed right with us,” said Head Coach Jay Triano. “For a lot of our players, it’s the first time on the senior national team and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”
Canada won the rebounding battle 46-34 and made a 30-23 first quarter lead stand up the rest of the way for the win. Canada led by as much as 15 points in the third quarter with Argentina coming all the way back to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter but unable to take the lead.
“We’ve had an intense camp and we’re looking forward to transitioning into game play,” said Jay Triano, Head Coach. “Tuto Marchand will give us an opportunity to play against some of our key competition prior to the Olympic qualifier.”