Andrew Nicholson scored a team-high 21 points and grabbed three rebounds as Canada fell Thursday to host Puerto Rico in the opener at the Tuto Marchand Cup, a warmup before the FIBA Americas kick off on August 30 in Venezuela. Nicholson came back Friday and scored 17 points and grabbed three rebounds Friday in an 83-74 loss to Argentina.
Canada is in the running to qualify for the FIBA World Cup in what is being called the "golden generation" of Canada basketball. With Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk and Andrew Wiggins waiting in the wings to join the national team, it is hard not to see the talent building up north.
Those guys are not part of the team yet and they still have to qualify for the FIBA World Cup next summer. That is what these early set of games will be about. So far, Canada is not off to a great start against Olympic regulars Puerto Rico and Argentina.
Nicholson this summer was going to work on his strength so he could become a better post defender. It is hard to say how well Nicholson is doing without watching. But his rebounding numbers still appear to be very low for a player starting at power forward and playing half the game.
The other thing Nicholson worked on was expanding his range. Nicholson hit all three of his 3-point attempts in Friday's loss to Argentina. Nicholson made two of his three 3-point attempts Thursday against Puerto Rico. Nicholson appears to have added this more to his game since Summer League (where Nicholson missed his only attempt).
If Nicholson develops a 3-point shot, he becomes a much more dangerous offensive option and can help Orlando spread the floor some. The team currently lacks any knock-down 3-point shooters.
The more physical play in FIBA does not seem to be phasing Nicholson's offensive game which is good to see.
Canada will play two more games in Puerto Rico. Tonight they play Dominican Republic, a game Canada should win, before finishing off play Monday against Brazil. Again, FIBA Americas Championship starts August 30.
Meanwhile over in Europe, Montenegro's preparations for Eurobasket has begun.
Montenegro dropped its final two exhibition games to Italy and Slovenia earlier this week. Vucevic had 11 points and seven rebounds for Montenegro in the exhibition finale against Slovenia. Vucevic played in only 17 minutes. He will surely play more once the games start counting in early September.
Meanwhile, over in Turkey, Hedo Turkoglu had 11 points and four rebounds in Turkey's 77-53 loss to Belgium. This is looking to be one of the weaker sides Turkey has put out in several years. They open up Eurobasket play against Finland on September 4.
This game against Belgium was the opener for Turkey in the Spor Toto World Cup 11 in Istanbul. Turkey will play Croatia today and Serbia on Sunday to complete the three-day tournament.