Mattamy Athletic Center – Toronto, ON
With the recent success of Canadian stars in the NBA, it’s time to showcase the up-and-coming talent to the rest of the world.
Tuesday night marks the inaugural BioSteel All-Canadian Basketball Game in Toronto, Ontario at the Mattamy Athletic Center. The event brings together 24 of the best high school ball players from across the country. While all eyes were on the likes of Thon Maker and Jamal Murray, there was plenty of talent on the floor that shows Canada has a very bright future in the game of basketball.
The opening few minutes were a feeling-out process, as most players acclimated themselves with playing on a big stage in front of national television. Team White raced out to an early 13 – 9 lead behind some strong drives to the lane from top prospect Jamal Murray.
Thon Maker got on the board with two free throws with just under 6 minutes to go in the first quarter, but was held in relative check for the opening 12 minutes. Maker was 0-of-5 from the field in the opening quarter.
Nelson Kaputo made the most of limited minutes in the first half, draining a deep three pointer for Team Red to knot the game up at 21-a-side with just over 1 minutes to go. As the first quarter came to a close, but teams would miss wide open opportunities. Team White shot 9-of-25 from the floor, while Team Red went 8-of-29 from the field, and we were all tied at 21.
Team Red opened the second quarter on a mission, opening on a quick 5 – 0 run to take a 26 – 21 lead. Abu Kigab put in a layup on a drive to the lane to stretch it to five, and teammate Jordy Tshimanga followed that up with two free throws to extend it to a 7-point lead.
After a start to the game, Thon Maker made a statement in the opening four minutes of the second quarter, throwing down an emphatic slam to help extend the lead of Team Red. Jerome Desrosiers would do his best to bring Team White back, with a 3-on-0 slam of his own, but Red led 32 – 25 at the first media timeout of the quarter.
The likes of Desrosiers, Murray, and Corey Johnson would help bring Team White back in the contest, and Matur Maker would put home a slam to extend the White lead to three, at 35 – 32 with 5:43 to go in the opening half.
Out of the media timeout, Team White put their defense on lockdown and forced a shot-clock violation from Team Red. Howard Washington would come back down and hit a jumper for Team Red, his first jumper of the game, to cut the lead to one. Corey Johnson responded with a three-pointer of his own, and the lead was quickly back up to four, at 38 – 34, in favour of Team White.
Just after Team Red cut the deficit to two, it was announced over the speaker that NBA Draft-bound Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, formerly of the Arizona Wildcats, was in attendance. It didn’t generate much of anything from the crowd, which is unfortunate.
At the end of the first half, Team White held onto their lead, and entered the break leading Team Red 44 – 38.
Jalen Poyser led the way for Team Red, recording 7 points in the first half. Justin Jackson recorded 4 points and 5 rebounds, while Thon Maker recorded 6 points and 3 rebounds on 1-of-10 shooting from the field.
For Team White, Jamal Murray led all scorers in the game with 14 first-half points to go along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Corey Johnson chipped in with 11 points, while Jerome Desrosiers added in 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Team White couldn’t have asked for a better start to the second half. Jalen Murray and Jerome Desrosiers helped stretch their team’s lead to 12, and Matt Neufeld put in a tip-in off a miss from Corey Johnson before picking up his third foul.
The action would keep up from there, as both teams showed some energy and got the crowd involved early and often. Jamal Murray drove the lane for a one-handed slam, and later threw up an alley-oop pass that both Matur Maker and Jerome Desrosiers came down with. Abu Kigab hit a three pointer to kickstart a personal run for Team Red. Kigab put in five straight points, bringing Team Red back to within five points, at 64 – 59.
Team Red continued their strong push, with Keshaun Saunders cutting the deficit to 1 with a layup in the lane. Corey Johnson went to the line and missed both attempts for Team White, and Team Red promptly went down the floor and took a 67-66 lead on a Justin Jackson layup.
Abu Kigab would continue his strong quarter from there, hitting a three pointer to give Team Red a 70 – 68 lead. That was before Jamal Murray lobbed up a perfect pass to Matur Maker to tie the game at 70 – all heading into the fourth quarter.
Jamal Murray continued his strong performance, and was promptly put on triple-double watch. Murray ended the third quarter with 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists for the game. Jalen Poyser continued to lead Team Red with 16 points.
The final stanza was all Nelson Kaputo to start, as the guard got the crowd involved with a nice crossover that led to a tear drop floater. He then followed it up with a deep, contested three pointer to give Team Red a 79 – 70 lead.
Team White would make their best effort to come back, but Team Red always seemed to have an answer. Matur Maker made two free throws for White, but Kigab went down the floor and was the recipient of a nice pass from Kaputo and put in the easy layup. Kigab went back down the floor and made two free throws to push the lead back to double figures with just over 7 minutes to play.
Awok Piom grabbed a crucial offensive rebound and recorded a layup to cut into Team Red’s lead, but Jordy Tshimanga had another answer for the red team.
When it looked like Team Red was going to run away with the game, Team White came storming back. Murray drove the lane for an up-and-under layup that drew some cheers from the crowd, and then hit a step-back jumper in the face of Kigab and all of a sudden, Team White erased a 10-point deficit. With just 1:13 to go, Team Red had a slim 94 – 92 lead.
Down the stretch, Team Red would bend, but never break. Team White made a big push, but couldn’t take the lead back as the game wound down. Team Red came away with the hard-fought 99 – 95 victory over Team White in the inaugural BioSteel All-Canadian Basketball Game.
Kitchener, Ontario’s Jamal Murray came away with the MVP award for Team White, as he put in the best performance of the night in the game. Murray put in 29 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds to show everyone why he’s considered one of the best prospects in Canada.
Orangeville, Ontario’s Jalen Poyser, and Murray’s teammate at the Athlete Institute, took home MVP honours for Team Red. Poyser recorded 21 points and 4 rebounds to help guide his team to victory.
One of the players everyone came to see, Thon Maker, struggled on the night. Maker was only 2-of-13 from the field for Team Red, finishing the game with 8 points and 5 rebounds. However, both coaches said after the game that with his size and abilities, nobody should be concerned with his performance on this night.
The time is now for Canada basketball, and Canada is here to stay. Keep an eye out for all 24 of the fantastic players who took part in the BioSteel All-Canadian Basketball Game.