It may not have been the picture perfect way for Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson and Canada to start off FIBA Americas, but a relatively easy and dominating 18-point win will have to do. Canada got to 1-0 with an 85-64 victory in the opening game of the FIBA Americas Championship in Caracas, Venezuela.
Cory Joseph of the San Antonio Spurs was the undoubted star of the game, scoring 17 points, dishing out 10 assists and grabbing eight rebounds. He was the one who paced Canada through the second quarter, when the Canucks built up their lead to double digits and through the third quarter when the Rockaboyz nearly got it all back.
The game though was never really in doubt. Jamaica got the game down to 10 points at the end of the third quarter, but never threatened. The Jamaican team, coached by former Magic guard Sam Vincent, had a lot of fight and desire to play to the final buzzer, but not so much in the way of organization or ability. Not, at least, compared to the Canada team's organization.
So this turned into a rout once again in the fourth quarter with Joseph running all over the defense and Brady Heslip (17 points), Tristan Thompson (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Levon Kendall (13 points, 8 rebounds).
Andrew Nicholson had a bit of a mixed bag of a game for Canada.
He was not a featured player in the offense. That went to Joseph and Andy Rautins. We already know that Nicholson is not the best defender.
However, Nicholson still found his way to get involved. He finished the game with seven points and four rebounds, shooting 3 for 7 from the floor. He had only one post up and missed a hook.
Otherwise though, it was easy to see that Nicholson has increased confidence in his shooting ability. He popped out to the 3-point line a few times and played more of the role of stretch-4 (sort of, at least) for Canada. He took a couple 3-pointers and his first basket of the game saw him roll to the 3-point line on a pick and roll. He promptly and confidently sank the long two with his foot on the line.
Jamaica certainly took notice. Nicholson was able to get defenders off their feet with a pump fake and drive to the basket on more than one occasion. He did not always finish, but that appeared to be added to his game. At least against Jamaica.
Nicholson's usual issues on defense and on the glass persisted. He seemed to be a little better rebounding in space, but his lack of athleticism made it tough to get rebounds when the taller Jerome Jordan or Samardo Samuels were leaping around him.
In any case, it was a good start for Nicholson and Canada. They could have asked for a more even 40 minutes, but it got the result they wanted.