Wuqi, China – The Development Men’s National Team (DMNT) squandered a large first-half lead, then hung-on to defeat Team USA by a score of 95-93 in double overtime at the Four Nations’ International Invitational Tournament. With the victory, the student-athlete team has now swept the three games between the two North American rivals during the 11-day competition. Canada is a perfect 7-0 in the tournament with two games remaining – the country’s third meetings against China and Latvia.
After stops in Kaixian and Huaihua, Wuqi now plays host to the third leg of the competition. The game began with furious action from the Canadians as they bolted ahead 32-9 in the game’s first 10 minutes. The Americans seemed lost as Team Canada swarmed them on defence and responded with quick and efficient scoring. Team USA found its legs in the second and matched Canada shot-for-shot as both teams finished with 22 points in the frame. Holland Landing, Ontario’s Kevin Pangos facilitated the offence and paced the squad to its 54-31 advantage at halftime.
The second half opened with a flurry of activity from Team USA. Whatever ailed the Americans during the game’s first 20 minutes had apparently been cured. The team’s potent offence took Canada by surprise as the United States opened with a strong run and held Canada without a field goal for several minutes. By the end of the period, Canada’s lead had been cut to 11 with Team USA carrying all the momentum. The American side completed the comeback late in the fourth quarter as Canada desperately tried to hang on for the victory. Canada had a chance to finish the game in regulation, but could not capitalize.
The United States, hoping to avoid a sweep by the Canadians, kept up their strong play in overtime. They made big three-pointers and put back second-chance points, but Canada held its ground and responded well to the American’s push. Toronto, Ont. native Daniel Mullings was a key contributor for Team Canada in the extra frames, knocking down several shots down the stretch to keep his team in the contest. On the last possession of the match, the Canadians pressured the United States into turning the ball over and the Americans were forced to foul. Canada drained 1-of-2 from the line to go ahead by two. Team USA’s attempt to tie the game, and force a third overtime session, rimmed-out and the Red and White triumphed once again.
Head coach Jay Triano appreciates the three-game sweep of Team USA, but views today’s contest as an important learning tool. “It’s always a challenge playing the United States. Winning all three games was difficult, so I’m proud of our guys for that. We still need to focus on playing a complete game with consistent effort. We’re continuing to grow as a team, but there’s still work to be done. With two games to go, we needed a tough test and we got that today.”
Canada will close-out its three-game set with host nation China on Monday morning with tip-off scheduled for 6:30 a.m. (ET). The first two meetings between Team Canada and the host-nation resulted in two victories for the Canadians by scores of 70-66 and 81-62.