Canada banked on the combined prowess of Corey Joseph and Tristan Thompson to blast Turkey 77-69 in the opening game of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Tuesday.
Joseph finished with 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting in the field plus five assists and three rebounds while the 6’10 power forward Thompson posted 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.
“It was a tough game,” Canadian coach Jay Triano told reporters during the post game interview. “Lots of respect to Turkey team. We knew from the very start it would be a great battle. We got ahead but we were still concerned.”
Philip Scrubb contributed 10 points, five rebounds and three steals also for Canada.
“We tried to use our quickness and hope that it should open the game for us. Try to put pressure on them,” added Triano.
The Canadians struggled to cope with the Turks’ tight defense at the start of the game but through the offense of Brady Heslip managed to establish a 21-17 advantage entering the second period.
Things started to work well for Canada when Joseph, who currently plays with the Toronto Raptors, finally found his shooting touch while his fellow NBA player Thompson provided additional firepower to outscore the Turks 18-13. Canada stretched its lead to 39-30 at halftime.
Turkey’s Birkan Batuk hit a three-pointer but Joseph responded with a quick basket to give the Canadians a safe 32-25 buffer with still 3:25 to go before halftime.
The 6’3 guard Joseph already had 10 points while Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers added nine more points by the end of the first two quarters.
The Canadians’ running game worked well highlighted by seven fast break points. Their defense was also impregnable keeping the Turks from posting fast break points. Despite being out rebounded by two (17-19), the Canadians shot better than the Turks in first half. Canada made 11-of-14 attempts in the free throw compared to Turkey’s 7-of-14. The Canadian team also registered more assists (10-6), three-pointers (4-3) and bench points (13-9) than the Turks.
Canada outclassed Turkey in the third period 20-17 behind Joseph’s 11 points in the third quarter.
The Canadians were enjoying a 59-47 advantage at the end of third period. Despite the Turks’ attempt to bounce back in the fourth quarter, the Canadians maintained their control of the game en route to their first victory.
Sinan Guller led Turkey with 14 points.
“We started the game particularly in offense very bad. We started missing open shots and open penetrations. In first half, we didn’t find offense,” said Turkey coach Ergin Ataman.
Canada 77: Joseph 21, Thompson 10, P. Scrubb 10, T. Scrubb 9, Melvin 7, Ennis 6, Heslip 6, Bennett 4, Birch 4,
Turkey 69: Guler 14, Osman 10, Mahmutoglu 9, Batuk 8, Erden 8, Savas 7, Guler 4, Geyik 4, Sipahi 2, Korkmaz 2, Muhammed 1.
QS: 21-17, 39-30, 59-47, 77-69