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Canada books spot in 2nd round at Olympic qualifier

Andrew Wiggins and Nik Stauskas each had 15 points to lead Canada to a 101-59 rout of Cuba on Wednesday at the FIBA Americas men’s basketball championship.

A day after losing their tournament opener to Argentina, the Canadians came back with a complete team effort to book a spot in the second round.

Canada got a huge contribution from its bench, with Brady Heslip and Dwight Powell scoring 12 and 10 points respectively and Aaron Doornekamp pulling down a game-high nine rebounds.

“After yesterday we needed to improve on a few things,” head coach Jay Triano said. “I thought we were more focused and we were able to play all 12 minutes and balance the minutes.

“With four games in four days, we felt that was important. Once we got the ball in transition, that’s the way we want to play — we want to try and score easy baskets as much as we can.”

Wiggins, a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the NBA’s rookie of the year last season, added six rebounds and two blocks. Stauskas, a guard with the Philadelphia 76ers, added six rebounds and four assists.

Starting point guard Cory Joseph, a recent addition to the Toronto Raptors, had a team-high six assists for Canada while adding six points and four rebounds. Backup Philip Scrubb came through with nine points, five rebounds and five assists.

“It was a good opportunity for all of our guys to get out there today and just play freely,” Stauskas said. “Other than the third quarter, where I thought we maybe backed off a little bit and gave them too many opportunities, I thought we did a good job staying focused all game and playing our game.”

Jasiel Rivero had a game-high 20 points for Cuba (0-3).

The result should boost the confidence of the talented but inexperienced Canadians, who are looking to finish in the top two in Mexico and qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Canada led 30-10 after the first quarter and didn’t let up, taking a 49-19 into halftime. After the teams each scored 22 in the third, Canada completed the rout by outscoring the Cubans 30-18 in the fourth.

Canada’s next game is Thursday against Venezuela.

CBC | Sports News

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