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It’s early days and early lessons for Canadian men


Remember these? I don’t know if I’ll do them every single day of this event – that would seem to be an awful lot of Canada minutia day after day after day – but why not try it off Game 1?

Besides, we’ve got this new tablet app coming before the start of the NBA season and I don’t know if these will go there or the morning after like in the good old days.

Anyway …

Some guys are just good

Hands up anyone – not counting Argentine nationals – who had any idea who Nicolas Laprovittola or Facundo Campazzo were before they dropped 20 and 10, respectively, on Canada yesterday.

Yeah, didn’t think there’d be that many of you.

This gets to one of my age-old issues about international basketball, that just because guys don’t play in big-name teams there’s always a tendency to overlook them.

After all, who would have seen Laprovittola play for Flemenco in Brazil or Campazzo play for Murcia in Spain.

But those are good teams in good leagues and those guys are good players and I don’t know if some of the young Canadians might have taken them too light, but it’d be folly if they did, as Brady Heslip pointed out after the game, speaking primarily of Laprovittola.

“Every team has a guy like that — these guys have never heard of him, he’s not a NBA player, but he’s a high-level player. He’s very good and very effective.”

Lots of them are.

Losing focus on the glass

Lost count somewhere about the middle of the third quarter on the number of long offensive rebounds that Argentina got while the Canadians basically stood around and watched.

As it was, the Argentines got 14 offensive rebounds that turned into 17 second chance points and that’s just not going to get it done.

The last two were pretty deadly: Luis Scola got one with about three minutes to go that turned into a Andres Nocioni three-pointer and a 10-point Argentina lead. And Scola was at it again in the final 20 seconds when he tracked down another miss, Nocioni converted again and a six-point game became eight at it was over.

Rebounding had been a Canadian strength through Puerto Rico and has to be again.

He’s smart. And he knows it

Luis Scola, like just about every 35-year-old who’s played in more Olympics and World Championships and FIBA Americas than he’d probably care to remember, knows all the tricks of the trade. He’s sneaky and rough and he’s been around long enough to know what he can get away with then, as he pointed out after the game.

“When you play in a lot of these tournaments you kind of take a little bit of advantage. You know what’s going to happen, you know how the refs are going to call, you know the other team. Like for me, I was playing against NBA guys and that was a good thing for me because I’m used to it. For those guys, they are playing Argentina, Brazil, Spain and they’re playing different basketball. So it takes a little time, it takes a couple games and I’ve played a couple of those.”

And we’ll say this one more time and hope it sinks it: That’s the kind of experience this group of Canadians is going to need for it to realize its true potential. Maybe not to the wise old extent of Scola but something approximating it and it’s why I still say 2019 and 2020 are this group’s true arrival dates.

This dovetails well with what comes next.

Strangest thing I saw yesterday?

In this country, where you can enjoy Modela or Corona or Sol or Dos Equis, how in the world the title sponsor of this never-ending basketball tournament ended up being Coors Light is beyond me.

I’ve basically refused to acknowledge its existence over the years (I keep some hidden at home only for Baseball Steve’s visits) and I’m wondering if I can go the next week and a half without having one in the tiny hospitality area off the work room at the arena.

Wish me luck.

Need mail, folks.

No clue what day I’ll do it – likely sometime Sunday since Saturday’s our off-day and I may try my hand at sightseeing – but there’s gonna be some down time with 6 p.m. games the next couple of days and I can probably get ahead of the game with your help.

It’s askdoug@thestar.ca like it always is.

So how are we all liking real September baseball?

Not bad, eh?

Ninth inning drama, walk-off home run, 40,000-plus in the park, some scoreboard watching.

Gonna be a helluva month, I suspect.

I know this won’t happen – and I guess in my heart of hearts I know it shouldn’t – but in a couple of weeks when the nights get pretty cool, it’d be neat if they left the lid to the ball park open.

Not when it’s raining, of course, but just when there’s a little bit of a nip in the air, those perfect fall nights where it’s sweater time? I wish they’d leave the roof open because that’s fall baseball.

The other thing I’m sort of looking forward to? The daily angst over every managerial move, the dissection of each decision, the chatter about so many at-bats and the second guessing that makes the game so wonderful.

There aren’t too many who’ve lived through a pennant race in Toronto – there wasn’t this sense of anticipation in ’92 and ’93 because they were supposed to win and I most remember people dreading that they wouldn’t as much as being excited that they would.

These are going to be interesting times, indeed.

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