The road to Rio made a stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico last night for the opener of the Marchand Cup, and Andrew Wiggins led Canada to an 85-80 victory over Luis Scola and Argentina.
When you look around the globe and try to discern who the next basketball powerhouse will be, the best place to look is just north of the U.S. border. Canada will one day be able to field a tam of NBA players all in their primes … although that would be looking so far down the road, we’d be talking about Tokyo 2020.
For now, Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Andrew Nicholson, Robert Sacre and Cory Joseph comprise the core of the Canadian National Team that will try to secure one of two berths in the Rio Olympics that will be up for grabs at the FIBA-Americas Olympic qualifier in Mexico City beginning next week.
What was interesting about Canada’s victory over Argentina — aside from Wiggins’ team-high 18 points — was that it came despite the absence of Joseph, who signed with the Toronto Raptors as a free agent over the summer.
“It didn’t take long for Jay Triano to try to find out what kind of point guard depth he has on the Canadian senior men’s basketball team. In the squad’s first outing, the head coach gave presumptive starting point guard Cory Joseph of the Raptors the day off as Canada hung on to beat Argentina 85-80 in the opening game of the Tuto Marchand Cup tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Phil Scrubb, the former Carleton University standout heading into his first season in Europe, started and finished the game and Olivier Hanlan made his senior team debut as a backup to begin Canada’s season. Finding a reliable backup to Joseph, who is expected to log big minutes for Canada when the FIBA Americas Olympic qualification tournament begins in a week, is the most pressing need for Canada in the Marchand Cup. The team will play four games against opponents it will meet again in Mexico City, starting a week Monday. Scrubb, a perennial CIS all-star at Carleton University, started Sunday and logged 28 minutes, finishing with 12 points, three assists and five rebounds. Hanlan, a second-round NBA draft pick who has signed with BC Zalgiris of the Lithuanian league, had seven points and two steals in 12 minutes. Determining who backs up Joseph — and that job may only entail 10 minutes a night once the Olympic qualification event begins — is one of the main tasks this week in Puerto Rico. Triano has to make decisions on playing times and roles quickly.”
Here is the link to the full boxscore from Sunday’s game.