After last year’s Biosteel All Canadian Game came down to the wire, a packed crowd at the UofT’s Goldring Centre for high performance was looking for the same thing. This was a crowd that featured the likes of DeMar DeRozan, Marcus Stroman, Nav “Superfan” Bhatia, and NBA scouts.
In the beginning, Team White came out firing in the first quarter. The pace led to White shooting a shade under 61% and leading the game 37-23. Nevertheless, Team Red’s did not let up on their intensity and it paid dividends. At the half, both teams were neck and neck, tied at 69. Despite the high scoring, the game was still extremely competitive, Luguentz Dort scoring 16 first half points.
Both teams would not let up as the scoring and intensity remained in the second half. However, this time team Red was the one firing out the gate. The second half is where Team Red started to pull away as they outscored team Red in the third quarter 44-29 and also put up 40 in the fourth quarter.
Overall that monster second half, along with Team Red’s defensive pressure and overall intensity help them gain the 153-135 victory. This was something that team Red Head coach, and Nippising Lakers head coach Chris Cheng spoke on post-game
“Both teams are very talented to the point where if you take a bad shot, the opposite team is going to capitalize because of the talent on the floor," Cheng said. "We had to stop taking bad shots, and when we did we played really good D, we played really good offense and that kind of got us back.”
Both teams were committed to the details on both ends of the floor. While there was lot of fast break opportunities, it was still a game of basketball. Things like ball movement, defensive communication, and special plays on both sides of the floor were on display.
“The kids are really mature. Just getting in practice with them, they’re picking up things really well, they are talking to each other. That really helps. That tells you that they got really good coaching in really good environments. In a magnitude like this, you can’t be selfish you got to be selfless. Everyone did that, not just my team, everyone did that.” commented Cheng.
Team Red MVP, Luguentz Dort, was very impressive. Dort 30 points on 12/16 shooting from the field. The 6’5 combo guard from Montreal, who is actually in the class of 2018, put everyone on notice at the Biosteel All Canadian Game. Dort was easily one of the most explosive players on the floor and that does not come as a surprise. When asked by a member of the scrum who he models his game after, with a laugh he said Westbrook.
For Team White, Matur Maker was the MVP of this game. For anyone who watched last year’s All Canadian Game will notice that Matur’s game has well matured. This led to his winning of the award this year and he was his usual gracious self, thanking his teammates for the award.
“I think [I am improving] but I think it was mainly my teammates finding me," Maker said. "Whether it was on the fast break or right on the block.”
There was clearly a lot of talent on display as 11 out of the 14 class of 2017 players in this game have committed to a NCAA Division 1 school. This speaks to the level that Canadian basketball is now at. There was a time in the not so distant past where one Canadian player going to a Division 1 was an accomplishment, now it is a norm for multiple NCAA D1 commits north of the 49 parallel.
This is indicative of a theme that many of the high schools were suggesting and that is the Canadians are close to the Americans in terms of talent “It’s not just the US that has talent, Canada’s got talent too.” said Oregon commit Abu Kigab. Right now, it is hard to disagree with that assessment. While the talent level in Canada may not be on the same level yet, it is on par with the talent down south. With that being said, only time will tell if that will translate into a team Canada goal medal win.