“Historically, we’ve never medalled at the Pan Am Games. To have this budding era of talent and to actually convert it into a medal is fantastic,” said Steve Nash, General Manager of the Men’s National Team. “Our guys still want to play for gold tomorrow and finish on top.”
A familiar trio of Anthony Bennett, Andrew Nicholson and Jamal Murray led Canada to the heart-stopping victory. Nicholson led the game in scoring with 31 points on 12-20 shooting. Murray came through in the clutch, dropping 22 points in the win. All of his buckets came in the fourth quarter or overtime. Bennett continued his stellar play with the Men’s National Team, scoring 18 points and grabbing a game-high 14 boards. Bobby Brown led the Americans with 25. For a full box score, click here.
The first quarter was dictated by the three-point shot. Canada was aggressive going to the hoop, but four threes from the USA kept things close at 14-12. Canada’s bench would help preserve the lead after the Americans settled in and the host nation led 24-23 after one quarter.
Andrew Nicholson came alive in the second period with back-to-back threes that would ignite the Canadian crowd. Brady Heslip scored five straight to make the difference seven in favour of Team Canada. The Americans attacked off the dribble and were rewarded for their efforts with numerous trips to the line. Canada would weather the storm and head to the locker room with a 52-47 advantage.
The Americans were on-fire from beyond the arc, hitting five threes in the period. A Denzel Valentine three at the 2:43 mark gave the Americans a two-point lead, and they would stretch it to seven before Canada fought back. After three quarters, the USA led 80-74.
Canada wasted no time getting back into the game. It took the Men’s National Team just under two minutes to reclaim the lead at 83-82. Jamal Murray played the role of hero, scoring 14 points in the quarter. The Americans continued to shoot the three but they would cool off and Canada controlled the glass. The United States would take a 97-94 lead with 50 seconds left but Murray nailed a three with 36 seconds on the clock to knot the game up. The buzzer-beating jumper from Murray would not fall and the Pan Am semifinal went to overtime.
Murray and Bennett connected twice as Canada opened the period on a 5-0 run but the USA would grab a three-point lead off the Anthony Randolph three pointer. The 18-year-old Murray saw Randolph’s three and raised him with back-to-back shots from downtown to give the Canadians a 110-106 advantage with 55 seconds remaining.
Nicholson drew a foul but was unable to shoot after injury and Carl English split the free throws to give. Bobby Brown would score a lay-up, Canada couldn’t score on the ensuing possession and the Americans had a shot with six seconds left to tie the game. Brown’s corner three-attempt went long and Murray secured the rebound to give Canada their first-ever semifinal win at the Pan Am Games.
“These kids want to represent Canada. When they put that jersey on there’s a lot of pride,” said Head Coach Jay Triano.
The win marks Canada’s best-ever finish at the Pan Am Games, regardless of the gold medal game result. Previously, Canada’s highest finish was 4th place in 1983.
Team Canada will take on Brazil (4-0) on July 25 in the gold medal game. Tip-off for the game is set for 4:30 pm EST. CBC will stream the game at panam.cbc.ca.
Article Source: http://basketball.ca