Observers close to the Canadian national basketball program have celebrated the emergence of 6’6″ Addison Patterson, many viewing the athletic wing as following in the recent footsteps of 6’7″ R.J. Barrett and 6’5″ Jamal Murray among others as lasting, impact players on the international stage. Today, it was the world’s turn and Patterson did not disappoint, showcasing his high-end athleticism and unrelenting attacks at the rim in Canada’s 92-67 pasting of Montenegro, the Eurozone runner’s up last season – albeit as hosts of that tournament.
Patterson’s breathtaking athleticism was on display almost from the opening whistle after filling the lane on the break and, taking off from near the three point line, cupping it and hammering at the rim left-handed. The high-degree-of-difficulty slam came off but the Montenegro bench stared in amazement and the tone was set. Patterson finished with a game-high 20 points on 7-14 shooting including a wonderful attack beating a close-out left and pounding home a two-hander late in the second quarter as Canada was rarely threatened after starting the second quarter on an 8-0 to lead 23-15.
While there remains some things to iron out in Patterson’s game – periodically driving into traffic with no real purpose (5 turnovers today), more consistency on his jumper especially beyond the three and a better sense of defending off the ball – he has baller’s instincts especially at high speeds and when pressing and jumping passing lanes. Today, Canada wore down Montenegro with the press and numerous lock-down defensive possessions. While there were some breakdowns guarding the ball screen and in transition, Canada generally looked very well prepared and made big shots when it counted.
Montenegro did get a 13 point deficit back to within 4 at 48-44 late in the third. However, Canada had another in a series of solid offensive possessions, gaining an advantage of the draw-and-kick and beating Montenegro’s defensive rotations with several extra passes, the final one which landed in the hands of 6’1″ Keeshawn Barthelemy (Montreal) in the left corner, who calmly knocked down the three and Canada was rarely in any danger thereafter. Later 6’4″ Luka Sakota beat the third quarter buzzer with a three-pointer from about three feet behind the left arc, giving Canada more momentum entering the fourth.
Patterson then helped ice the game for good, leading an 11-0 run in the first three minutes of the fourth including a soaring dunk from the left wing which he pulled way back in Jordan-esque fashion before hammering it home.
Canada forced 24 Montenegro turnovers and attacked the “o” boards retrieving 15 caroms on the offensive glass, wearing down the less athletic and thinner Montenegro rotation with various full and three-quarter court looks as well as the odd 2-3 zone. But Canada’s ability to guard the ball and limit the need for defensive rotations was the under-rated staple of today’s win.
All 12 Canadians on the roster played and hit the scoresheet including 6’7″ lefty Josh Hemmings (11 points), who was active in the press and generally defensively, knocked in 3-4 threes. Sakota finished with 10 as Canada hit a bunch of threes late to finish a solid 8-18 from downtown.
Barthelemy and 5’11” Shemar Rathan-Mayes were solid running the show for Canada and 6’4″ Cashius McNeilly had 2-3 threes in what was a very balanced offensive attack.
Canada meets Egypt tomorrow (Canada Day Sunday) at 12:45 PM ET as the tournament’s preliminary round continues. Egypt dropped New Zealand 64-50 earlier today so tomorrow game is a battle of the unbeatens as 6’5″ Mo Hassan led the way with 14 points. Egypt shot just 3-16 from downtown but held the Kiwis to just 3 for 28 from beyond the stripe.
Great opportunity for Canada to play on Canada Day !