MEXICO CITY – Canada’s men’s basketball team went into its first second-round game at the FIBA Americas Championship on Sunday with a clear goal.
They accomplished it emphatically with a 103-66 thrashing of Panama.
Brady Heslip poured in 23 points off the bench, including seven of Canada’s 14 three-pointers and Andrew Wiggins added 17 points.
Nik Stauskas had 16 points and Cory Joseph chipped in with 15 for a Canadian team that outrebounded Panama 53-28.
“Our goal was to rebound and see if we could get out in transition,” said Canadian coach Jay Triano. “We were able to wear them down by continually running and doing a good job on defence.”
Jonathan King led Panama with 13 points.
Defence was the story of the first quarter, as Canada forced seven turnovers and held Panama scoreless from the 6:30 mark. Joseph scored nine points in the first 10 minutes to propel Canada to a 20-10 lead.
Panama made just nine field goals by the half and Canada went into the break up 42-23. The Canadians led 77-43 after three quarters.
The top two teams from the tournament qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio next summer.
Canada plays Uruguay on Monday.
“We know that (Monday) is going to be a tough game but it is good to start the second round with a win,” said Heslip.
Canada’s men’s team has not participated in a summer Games since 2000.