Mexico's guards were fast and Gustavo Ayon was letting loose on Canada as the Mexicans got Andrew Nicholson in foul trouble and Tristan Thompson continued to struggle with his efficiency. This seemed to be exactly the kind of game Canada would struggle with. The guards were, after all, seemingly the team's biggest weakness.
Not today. Not in the fourth quarter of a close game.
The Canucks blew the doors open with Andy Rautins draining 4 of 6 3-pointers, Brady Heslip hitting 5 of 8 and Cory Joseph making 3 of 5. Canada hit 16 of 28 3-pointers on the team's way to outscoring Mexico 29-9 in the fourth quarter on its way to a critical 89-67 win in the first game of Group X play at the FIBA Americas Championship.
Canada put a firm grip on its place in second place in the group by defeating the third place Mexicans. The rest of the teams will be ordering themselves more in the next few days. Canada though has a leg up on the other hopefuls to get to next summer's World Cup (that is what this is all about, right?).
Heslip had 21 points and Joseph had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead Canada.
Andrew Nicholson turned in another solid offensive game, scoring 13 points in just less than 15 minutes. He showed off his knack for putting the ball in the basket once again, draining a couple 3-pointers and being active in the post and around the rim on offense. His defense continues to show minimal improvements, but he still needs to get better on his weakside rotations.
More importantly, this was another game where Nicholson got into early foul trouble and had his effectiveness limited by his limited minutes.
Nicholson was doing a good job defensively against former teammate Gustavo Ayon in the first half. Mexico struggled to generate scoring with Ayon struggling. That seemed to be released when Nicholson went out and Ayon began taking the game over.
Ayon scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. He did much of that damage in the third quarter as Mexico rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit.
In the end, though, the Mexicans could not keep up with the Canucks. Their depth and their shooting were too much to overcome in the end.
Turkey dumped by Italy
In Eurobasket, Italy ran past Turkey 90-75 displaying some slick passing and team play and overwhelming a struggling Turkey squad.
Turkey's struggles at guard — and by some extension Hedo Turkoglu — to initiate offense and set up Ersan Ilyasova and Omer Asik was pretty evident early on as Italy took firm control of the game and never let go. Turkey just did not have any answers.
Turkoglu did play a stronger game today than he did yesterday, however. He played the role of distributor more, accumulating four rebounds and four assists. He just has not been able to find his shooting touch at all and has looked completely off when he is not trying to get to the basket — and even then he seems likely to commit a charge.
Turkoglu had 12 points and made both of his 3-point attempts. But he was just 2 for 7 overall in the game. Turkoglu was less noticeable in this game, which may have been a good thing because he was doing less things wrong. Or it might be a bad thing because he was not creating for his team.
We already know Turkoglu is not the player he used to be. This seems only to confirm it.