Saturday, July 23, 2016

Canada Shows Puerto Rico What The Next Level Looks Like

Canada once again showed why they are one of the best teams in this tournament with a 83-66 win over Puerto Rico in the FIBA Americas U18 Semifinal.  Canada dominated the game from the outset and never allowed Puerto Rico to come within 10 points since going up 15-3 in the first quarter.

Puerto Rico looked tired and the entire team seemed to be satisfied with qualifying for the World Championship the day before against the USVI. Coach Ortiz looked to their bench to try and create some energy early in the game but to no avail. You could see the lack of emotional interest by almost everyone on the team and it showed in their style of play.

What has hurt Puerto Rico throughout the tournament and continued to plague them yesterday was their inability to protect the ball.  The team had a total of 23 turnovers and only 9 assists. That speaks to what we saw yesterday with almost everyone on the team playing one on one basketball.  Puerto Rico shot a total of 22 three point shots making only 5.  Those 17 misses turned into easy transition buckets for Canada. 

A bigger problem moving forward for Puerto Rico may be the teams refusal to stay committed to playing team defense. The refusal to help the helper was evident throughout the game with the team struggling all night to make second and third rotations. It's a problem that has plagued Puerto Rico throughout this tournament.  

An Atlantic-10 Assistant Coach who watched yesterday's game said this about Puerto Rico's play yesterday, " What I saw yesterday was really really bad. They have a lot of players who have no idea how to play selfless basketball. And some of their players just refused to play defense. It's almost like they didn't care about the game but instead focused on padding their individual statistics."

This mindset has become the norm with many young players and it can destroy the fabric of a team. You could see this happening yesterday with players bickering and fighting with each other over the failure of some guys to commit to playing defense on every possession.  It became a pattern time after time with players from Puerto Rico not being able to stay in front of their man.  If you cannot defend, you cannot compete with elite teams. 

Lets see if the players from Puerto Rico will commit to playing for each other or we will see another ugly performance of Me vs. We.  We have watched four games thus far and have yet to see the players call one huddle during the game. Teams that play for each other and are connected typically call anywhere from 5-10 huddles a game. A team that never huddles is a team that is selfish by definition. 

We play Brazil for third place and a bronze medal later today, lets see if Puerto Rico can do three very simple things. If they do they have a chance at beating a very talented Brazilian Team. 

1. 12 Turnovers or less
2. 45 Rebounds In Total
3. 20 Assists