Team Canada won their Men’s Basketball opener at the Pan Am Games in Toronto by beating up on the Dominican Republic 105-88 behind the reliable three-point shooting of Brady Heslip.
This game was close in the first quarter until head coach Jay Triano brought in Heslip off the bench. Canada’s best shooter poured in 18 points in the first half as Canada dominated the Dominican 54-37 in large part because Heslip changed how the visitors had to defend. Heslip finished with 24 points in 23.3 minutes hitting 5-10 three-point attempts and 4-5 field goals in close.
Heslip always seems like an after-thought for Team Canada, but he has proved his worth internationally over the past couple of years. Opponents either stay stuck to him like glue or he fills the basket from everywhere on the court.
The Orlando Magic’s Andrew Nicholson started strong for Canada, scoring 7 of his team’s first 9 points and keeping the Dominican at bay until Heslip entered the game. Nicholson finished a strong outing with 14 points and 5 boards in 17.7 minutes.
Former first overall NBA draft pick Anthony Bennett had his moments in this game and looks like a very good player that still has a few of the basketball nuances left to figure out. A 15 point 10 rebound game reflected the effort Bennett played with and seemed a bit like a tease of what could be.
Undrafted Melvin Ejim worked out for the Raptors in 2014 and it looks like his game has improved since the last time he was in Toronto. The big combo forward was defensively solid and had an impressive 12 points and 3 rebounds in just 16.7 minutes. He would have played more if this game hadn’t turned into a blowout.
Everyone wanted to see what the 7’5 Sim Bhullar could do and the giant didn’t disappoint. Bhullar still needs to drop some weight and become a lot more mobile, but he is an imposing rim protector, picking up 2 boards, 2 blocks and 4 personal fouls in just 8.4 minutes. It took a while for the Dominican guards and wings to adjust to Bhullar’s size and length around the rim and this very big man isn’t deniable on lobs – not that going 1-1 for 2 points made much of an impact offensively.
The Dominican was led by Angel Suero with 17 points, 3 rebounds and 5 steals and Angel Delgado with 15 points and 6 boards.
This game was never in doubt after the first quarter. Team Canada shot 55 percent from the field versus 42 percent for the Dominican and outrebounded the Dominican 43-34. Under FIBA rules, the game is only 40 minutes long and Canada reached the uncommon century mark in scoring.
Triano has to be very happy after this game that Heslip left NBA Summer League just in time to become a last minute addition to Team Canada. Canada will need Heslip’s ability to score and throw defenses off balance if the Senior Men’s National Team is going to have a chance at winning their first ever Pan Am medal.
Should Raptors Give Canadian Brady Heslip a Camp Invite?
Team Canada shooting guard Brady Heslip played 20 games with the D-League’s Reno Bighorns last year where he averaged 24.5 points per game and shot 44.3 percent from deep. He scored in bunches, four games with 9 or more three-pointers, games of 35, 38, 40 and 45 points.