On Saturday, San Antonio Spurs guards Cory Joseph and Marco Belinelli returned to FIBA international play as Italy continued to soar in the FIBA Eurobasket tournament with a 62-44 victory over Finland, while Canada lost its second straight game in the second round of the FIBA Americas tournament with a close 81-74 loss to the Dominican Republic.
The Italians stayed perfect (3-0) at Eurobasket by locking Finland down in the last three quarters of the game in which they held Finland to just 27 points after the first quarter. Belinelli didn't have his best shooting day going 2-of-13 from the field for 7 points and collecting 4 rebounds in his 30 minutes, but his contribution to the team defense was still a factor in earning the win.
After building an early 28-18 lead after the first quarter, the Canadian offense could never find a way to score more than 17 points in a quarter the rest of the way as the Dominican Republic held on for the win handing Canada back-to-back losses in two days. Joseph finished as Canada's third leading scorer with 13 points 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal. Joseph was responsible however for 6 of Canada's 16 turnovers in his 30 minutes of play.
In Group D of Eurobasket, Italy is tied with Greece at 3-0 and with an accumulated 6 points. By the time Sunday is over, one team will be the clear leader of Group D as both teams will face each other.
As for Canada, they continue to stay tied for the 4th position with an accumulated 9 points in the second round. Argentina and Venezuela are also slotted with Canada in the 4-6 position. Canada will face Argentina on Sunday.
After Saturday's loss, General Manager of the Canadian National team/Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash took to Twitter to offer some encouragement to the young struggling Canadian team.
Hang in there fellas. ANYTHING can happen.....@CanBball— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) September 7, 2013
I know I can't be the only one who is concerned about Joseph's underwhelming play against inferior opponents. 6 turnovers against the Dominican Republic? Interesting to see that Belinelli's d played factor in win. That will be expected of him, he said he knew it when he came to Spurs and was going to work hard to become better defensively. Good to know.
@gymbear CJ had 2 TOs today and 19 pts but Canada is all but done now with the loss..unless they get a wild card and thats very unlikely. In PPG in whole tourney CJ ranked 6th and imo the 2nd best point guard in tourney next to JJ Berea who played very well. I get the concern though. He can be a bit hit and miss. But from what I saw, he would always at least have a great O game or D, never lacking in both. I think his improvement will continue. Hes still very young
@Spursfan66 I didn't see the game, but what I like is that Paul said he played good D throughout the game making up for his lack of scoring. Not everyone is going to have a good shooting night, but there is no reason to not bring your D every game!
@Spursfan66 @gymbear Thanks for the info! Man, I can't put my finger on it, sometimes it's just subjective of course, but I just wish we had a vet backup point. I think I'd feel a lot better about having Joseph or Mills or De Colo (one of them) as a 3rd pg as opposed to next man up. Part of that is TD and Manu's age. That window is closing quickly. If they were both 6-7 years younger Joseph as #2 wouldn't bother me. I just think if the worst happens, TP goes down for a stretch or during playoffs, it's too much for any of our backup pg's to expect them to carry the load they would have to carry. TD and Manu deserve as much solid depth as possible. That's just my take. I do think Spurs thinking something similar or they wouldn't be looking at every point guard not on an NBA roster right now:) We'll see.