The Junior Men's National Team seemed to start the FIBA Americas U18 Championships with a bang taking out Puerto Rico handily in their opening game 77-51.
Now as an observer of the game, I figured that PR would provide a tough first game but it seems that I may have spoken too soon. Canada jumped out to a 24-10 lead to finish the first quarter and never looked back from there. The largest margin in the game would be when Canada held a 53-19 lead four minutes into the third quarter.
All I could say to this win was, "Wow".
I would have expected Canada to be competitive in the game but not dominate it like it did. The Red and White shot 49.1% from the floor but didn't shoot to well from the three (3-of-19) or the foul line (12-of-23). Regardless, they were able to keep PR at 26% FG shooting and 18.5% from the three (remember that FIBA rules separate the 2PT and 3PT attempts). Canada also outrebounded the their opponents 63-35. Yikes! This is a great sign for the team heading into their match up with Columbia later today.
The star of the game today was Trey Lyles who had 17 points, 16 rebounds and 3 assists in just over 19 minutes of action. Not bad for a young guy with no international experience.
I'll be looking forward to seeing what the JMNT will do against Columbia. They are slated to tip off at 7:00pm EDT and with no team rosters available on the FIBA Americas website this will largely be a mix bag. I did say in my post from a day ago that Columbia would be the relatively easier of the three games that our kids are playing in the first round of the tournament before the classification round but after yesterday's game, it's possible that this could very well be the hardest now.
If the players are of capable skill for Columbia, and the JMNT don't take this game as serious as the PR game, it's possible that Canada could fall to what many great teams have done in the past - underestimating their opponents. As long as the team treats them like they did Puerto Rico, by late evening this team should be 2-0 going into their final pool game with Argentina.