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The Confidence Builder

Loose is how the Junior Men need to be when they play but not too loose.  Especially if they want to get to the medal round.
Loose is how the Junior Men need to be when they play but not too loose. Especially if they want to get to the medal round.

The Canadian Junior Nats started off their FIBA U18 Championship in fine style handily taking care of Uruguay.  But if you want a stat breakdown of the game, you need to go elsewhere.  The Can Ball Report gives it's thoughts on the game and why this win was a necessary one right now ...


Yesterday saw a good win for the Junior Men’s National Team.  They defeated Uruguay to start off their road to qualifying for the World Championships for next summer. 


But they didn’t just beat them, they actually BEAT them. 


Canada ended up winning 76-52 in a game where they did not give up the lead.  That was a good sign.  The Junior Men I think needed to get this win early in San Antonio so they could get that feeling, that winning feeling.


Watching the game, I immediately thought that this team that largely represents Canada’s basketball future and collective dreams and aspirations looked decent.  The team was up something like 21-3 after the first quarter and they looked in total control.  Everything seemed to be clicking and the guys were playing like I’m sure we thought they could – great.  The first quarter was an indication of what the team could be like in any given quarter and it was amazing to see.


As the game wore on, the Junior Nats played looser and that is when their true test happened.  The ball was suddenly not finding the net, it was squirting away, being tapped out and being turned over.  Essentially things were not going Canada’s way like in the first and it seemed that Coach Francis’ biggest fear seemed to be coming true.  There was a sequence in the game where 7’4" Sim Bhullar missed two lay ups at the rim, a Canadian player got the third rebound and missed from close also.  The ball was then corralled by Uruguay and they went down the floor for the two.  Things just did not go Canada’s way at all for a stretch and we actually held scoreless for about five minutes. 


To their credit, Uruguay would actually not fold and began to come alive after the first.  They began hitting their outside shots, they were rebounding, and they were getting to the lane for either a finish or a kick out for a three.  Uruguay definitely scrapped the last three quarters but the game never really got any closer than an 18 point deficit. 


I think Canada passed this first test.  As young guys, even vets for that matter, it’s easy to get into a lull when you have a cushion and have kept a team to three points in ten minutes of action.  The nerves get calm and you get into that coast mode that can often lead to the opposition getting back into the game.  The Junior Nats began to slip a little with turnovers, poor passing and missed boxouts over the second and part of the third but they were still able to calm it down and regain control of themselves and the game to pull out the win. 


The win, though maybe not against the best team in the tournament, is still a good win.  More so I would say that this is a statement win in my mind but the statement is to the players themselves.  This win should be telling the players that they can play at this level, in this tournament, on this stage and really run the court.  This win is a confidence builder for the next game against Puerto Rico, which will probably not only be tougher but particularly more of physical. 


Remember that the Junior Men's game starts tomorrow at 1:00pm local time and can be viewed streaming live here.