August 21, 2001

Team Canada Advances to Second Round at International Tournament

Aug. 20, 2001

NEUQUEN, Argentina - Despite resting former Santa Clara University star Steve Nash for all but 12 minutes of the game, the Canadian senior men's basketball team defeated Mexico, 104-92 to complete its first round of play at the COPABA Tournament of the Americas in Neuquen, Argentina Monday.

Sherman Hamilton (Malton, ON) led Canada as five Canadian players scored in double figures. Hamilton finished with 18 points and five steals in only 17 minutes of play, as they overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat Mexico. Canada finished the first round with a record of 3-1, good for second place in Group A.

With Mexico already eliminated from second-round play, the game was meaningless. But head coach Jay Triano saw an opportunity to rest key players before round two begins tomorrow. Only two Canadians saw more than 20 minutes of floor time. Nash played 12 minutes and scored just seven points with a tournamnet-low one assist.

Canada made its comeback midway through the third quarter by extending their defence and capitalizing on numerous Mexican turnovers, which turned into easy baskets.

Hamilton nailed a three-pointer that gave Canada its first lead at 62-61 midway through the third quarter. A Todd MacCulloch (Winnipeg, MB) slam and subsequent free throw gave Canada a 73-67 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

In the final period, Jerome Robinson (Mississauga, ON) hit two three pointers extending Canada's lead to 12 points.

"This was a good team victory as we accomplished many things," said Triano. "We were able to rest some key players for the second round and give some of our bench players extra playing time.

"Also, a couple of our young wing players knocked down some shots which should give them confidence as we head into some very tough games over the next four days."

MacCulloch and Robinson both finished with 16 points. Andrew Kwiatkowski (Cambridge, ON) recorded 15 points and eight boards. Prosper Karangwa (Montreal, QC) scored 10 points.

In the second-round crossover, Canada will play against Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. Game days and times will not be confirmed until the remainder of Monday's games are complete.

In their third game of the world qualification tournament on Sunday, Canada defeated Panama 89-82.

Canada trailed by as many as 13 points in the first and second quarters and was behind 47-40 at the half. Poor first half perimeter shooting by the Canadian squad fueled Panama's transition game, resulting in easy scores for the team from Central America.

Down 59-58 after three quarters, Nash (Victoria, BC) broke an 0-8 slump from behind the arc knocking down back-to-back three pointers to give Canada its first lead of the game. Canada never relinquished the lead opening up a 75-63 lead.

Panama cut the lead to five, but Canada was perfect from the free throw line (8-8) in the final minute, including Sherman Hamilton's (Malton, ON) six for six performance to seal the victory.

"We are quickly finding out what it's like to be the hunted at this year's tournament," said head coach Jay Triano. "Each team has circled our game on their schedule after our performance at least year's Olympics and we must be ready to compete each time we step onto the floor - no matter who the opponent is.

"This afternoon Andy (Kwiatkowski, Cambridge, ON), really kept us in the game until we were able to break away in the fourth quarter. We struggled from the perimeter much of the game, but our defence in the second half was solid."

Canada's leading scorer was Kwiatkowski with 19 points and nine boards. Hamilton finished with 17 points while Todd MacCulloch (Winnipeg, MB) tallied for 13. Nash recorded 11 points and 12 assists. Mike Meeks (Brampton, ON) pulled down 10 rebounds.