After slumping to a Luca Scola inspired Argentina yesterday Canada kick started its FIBA Americas tournament with a crushing 59-101 victory over Cuba. The win handed the Canadians their first win and put them on 1-1 in Group B having played a game less than the other nations. As for Cuba, their FIBA Americas is already destined to fall at the first hurdle as the Caribbean country slipped to 0-3 at the foot of the standings.
The other early tip-off in Mexico saw the Dominican Republic down Panama 83-66 to grab its first victory of the tournament so far. The Dominicans moved to 1-2 in Group A and are back in the hunt for qualification, while Panama sinks to 1-1 but is also still in the picture.
Cuba vs. Canada, 59-101
Canada would feel unlucky to lose to Argentina, the team stayed consistent throughout that game but came up against a blazing hot Scola and fell to defeat. On the evidence so far the Canadians are in good form and showed that early on in this contest, controlling the hardwood through a stunning first quarter to lead 10-30 after ten minutes. In the second frame Canada eased off the aggression at the bucket and concentrated play at both ends of the floor. It was a masterful period that ended 9-19 in favor of the players from the Great White North. Canada headed into halftime with a 19-49 lead.
That thirty point lead through the midway rest meant Canada were already on course to win, and while Cuba improved with 22 points in the third act, it was a total that was matched. Through three quarters the scoreboard read 41-71. In the fourth stanza the Canadians went up a gear again and poured in another 30 points to decimate Cuba and win the game.
Alex Wiggins and Nik Stauskas led the winning effort with 15 points and 6 rebounds each. Brady Heslip followed with 12 points.
Jasiel Rivero continued his good personal form with a game leading 20 points for the losing Cubans, while he also posted 7 boards.
Dominican Republic vs. Panama, 83-66
The Dominican Republic controlled Panama for large periods of the game and never really looked likely to be overturned at the FIBA Americas today. The teams went bucket for bucket early on but the trading soon stopped as the Dominican Republic got more creative in offence and moved to a 26-16 lead at the first split. Panama showed plenty of fight in the second quarter with a 24 point run that the Dominican’s could only match with 16 points. That was enough to make it a two point game through the long break, 42-40.
The third quarter was tight with both teams exchanging the lead, it felt like a period that would decide the contest. The Dominican Republic edged Q3 22-21 to make it 64-61 through thirty minutes, but more importantly it gave the players confidence and the momentum to close out the win in impressive fashion. In the last act a stunning defensive display saw the winners take a 19-5 to victory.
James Feldiene topped the winning team with 16 points and 5 assists, while Eulis Baez grabbed 13 points and Edgar Sosa combined 11 points with 6 scoring passes.
Jose Lloreda was good for 16 points and 10 rebounds for Panama, the only double-double of the game. Josimar Ayarza followed with 15 points and Michael Hicks 12 points.