After struggling against the top competition in the FIBA U-19 World Championships, Canada finally delivered against a world class opponent. Needing a victory over Argentina to secure qualification for the quarterfinals, Canada played its most complete game of the entire tournament in the 67-57 victory. With the victory, Canada knocked Spain out of the tournament, and setup a huge game against Team USA in the quarterfinals. As Gonzaga fans have come to expect in this tournament, Mangisto Arop put together a dominant performance, while Kelly Olynyk continued to struggle mightily against top competition. Here is a quick look at how both Manny and Kelly fared in this gigantic victory.
Mangisto Arop: 18 points (8/16; 0/4) and 4 rebounds
Kelly Olynyk: 4 points (2/15; 0/8) and 7 rebounds
Over the course of this tournament, Mangisto Arop and Corey Joseph have emerged as the only two consistent scoring options for Canada. As anyone who follows recruiting knows, Corey Joseph is one of the top recruits in the 2010 class (#12 in the current Rivals rankings), and the reason for this is because he has had the national exposure playing for Findlay Prep. If there is one thing that this tournament has continued to affirm in my mind, it's the fact that Mangisto Arop would have likely been a top 25 recruit had he had the exposure of playing in the United States. Manny continued his tremendous play again tonight, as he scored 18 points and grabbed four offensive rebounds. The one area of Manny's game that continues to struggle is his 3 point shooting, but as he mentioned in our interview, this is an area he is constantly working to improve.
One of the big things I need to work on is my shooting to make it more consistent, especially working on my 3-ball
With his continued efficient shooting from inside the 3 point line, Manny will still be able to contribute heavily without a reliable perimeter shot. However, once he establishes himself as a threat to score from deep, he will be virtually unguardable at the collegiate level.
Unfortunately, Kelly Olynyk put together his most disheartening performance of this tournament. It seemed after his performance against Kazakhstan, that maybe Kelly had found the shooting stroke that had been eluding him all tournament. However, all this performance today proved was that Kelly might be able to succeed against the lower level teams in this competition, but when it comes to playing the elite teams, he is simply not ready to contribute. With Tristan Thompson rounding into form following his ankle injury against Spain, I would be surprised if Coach Francis gives Kelly such a long leash in the next round. Now that we are at the point where the next loss means elimination from championship contention, Kelly simply can't afford to shoot 2/15 from the field.
As I mentioned earlier, Canada will return to the court on Thursday, and their opponent will be Team USA. This will be a tremendous match up, as in terms of pure talent, these are the top two teams in the tournament. However, while Team USA has been able to deliver on their talent, Canada is still searching for its rhythm. Hopefully, I believe they will deliver in a big way, in what should be a tremendous game.