If there was a free agent President and General Manager Masai Ujiri signed this summer that Canadians, Torontonians and Raptors fans in general should have been familiar with and happy to see it should have been Luis Scola. Scola has enjoyed a solid NBA career and as the top player from Argentina, he’s been a Team Canada killer since 2007.
Scola is 5-0 against Canada at the FIBA Americas tournaments and in 2009, he took away Canada’s last and best chance at a medal in the final game. Argentina has been good for while, so it’s been no disgrace for the Canadian side to lose to them, but still, you’d think someone would have remembered?
Scola’s history versus Team Canada at the FIBA Americas looks like this:
In 2007, Argentina defeated Canada 85-70 in the quarter-finals, Scola leading the way with 23 points. In the tournament Scola led his team in scoring with 19.4 points per game and Argentina lost to the USA in the Finals to take home Silver.
In 2009, Argentina defeated Canada 67-51 in a quarter-final game, but Canada worked their back into the medal rounds only to lose in the Bronze medal game 88-73 to Argentina. Scola had 12 points and 9 rebounds in the first game and led his team with 27 points in the game for a medal. Scola also led Argentina with 23.3 points per game for the tournament.
In 2011, Argentina defeated Canada 79-53 in the second round behind 22 points from Scola. Scola averaged 21.4 points as he led his team to Gold over Brazil.
In 2013, Scola broke Team Canada’s heart leading his team to a 73-67 victory that eliminated any chance of Canada making it to the 2014 World Cup. Scola scored 28 points against Canada, averaged 18.8 points per game for the tournament and Argentina defeated the Dominican Republic for Bronze.
It’s well understood that international play is not the same as in the NBA. Scola took on a big scoring load for his National Team, in the NBA however, he’s played an all-around role focusing more on defense, rebounding and fitting into his various teams’ offense schemes.
Over his NBA career, Scola has averaged 26.8 minutes, 12.3 points, 7 rebounds and 1.7 assists. His role was reduced with the Pacers over the past two seasons playing behind the two-time All-Star David West and last year he averaged 20.5 minutes, 9.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
What really stands out from last season was Scola’s outstanding effort to grab 25.7 percent of the available defensive rebounds. Now that’s something the Toronto Raptors have been missing in the worst way.
Scout.com’s Phillip B. Wilson described Scola as an unselfish team player last year.
Scola doesn’t force shots and unselfishly looks to set up his teammates while expending more effort to rebound and play defense.
“The shot, sometimes it goes down, sometimes it doesn’t,” said Scola, who reiterated it’s more important to focus on energy and playing hard.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel has continually said he’s not concerned about Scola’s scoring. Some nights, Vogel said, Scola is often so consumed with rebounding and his defensive assignment, offensive opportunities don’t present themselves.
There remain some who are overly concerned about the veteran power forward turning 35-years-old, however, Scola’s game has never relied on out-athleting his opponent. While he has the size, strength and required hustle to play power forward, Scola has been more reliant on Basketball IQ to be in the right place at the right time. His career should last for several years yet.
“Last couple of years sometimes it was a little frustrating to play less minutes than I was used too,” Scola said on his arrival in Toronto. “I feel like my legs are okay. I don’t think I have any limitations. I really work hard. I expect to be a big part of the rotation.”
Raptors fans should expect Scola to be a big part of the Raptors rotation as well. Scola fits in a Raptors starting unit with plenty of firepower, but could use a boost at the defensive end and especially at finishing off defensive stands by grabbing the rebound. Toronto was the third worst team in the NBA at giving up second chance points last season and Scola has shown that he can be a big part of reversing that trend.
Canadian basketball fans should know and remember Scola for what he has done internationally and in the NBA. Those who don’t are about to get a first-hand primer on just how effective a team player this veteran power forward can be.
I wanted to win,” Scola said. “To me it was also important that I could be on a team that is strong, a good place (standings) team with chances to grow and hopefully chase a ring at some point down the line, but also be a part, be important on the team and I felt that this was the situation (here).”
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.
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 at the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup in Puerto Rico. Canada led this game at half-time 33-29 on a buzzer-beating three pointer by Andrew Nicholson, but Argentina pulled away after half on Scola’s strong play.