Jamal Murray Shows No Fear Against Argentina
Jamal Murray was supposed to treat this like a learning experience.
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He was supposed to watch quietly from the bench while the veterans of Canada’s national team handled business, and then allow him to come and pick up the garbage time.
Any notion of Jamal Murray being a glorified spectator for the rest of these Pan Am Games flew out the window last night.
Most educated basketball circles in and around the US and Canada expected Murray to get some decent playing time behind Carl English, Brady Heslip, and Junior Cadougan, three well accomplished NCAA and international players in their own right.
But the idea of Murray putting up the biggest numbers of all four, against what could have been Canada’s toughest test until the medal rounds, was not something I believe anyone expected, even if we knew he had it in him.
But Murray did just that against an Argentina team that had plenty of Euro talent on their roster, coupled with a number of younger players who will no doubt be facing Murray for many years to come in international and NBA competition.
Jul 22, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Canada guard Jamal Murphy (4) shoots the ball against Argentina forward Federico Augerre (10) in the men
Murray, as what seems to be the running story with him, seemed completely unfazed in the moment, and dropped 15 points in the first half on some of the best guards Euroball has to offer.
Murray also managed to find his teammates a number of times when driving to the paint and was unconscious from beyond the arc to start the second quarter, hitting three straight threes, including one while falling down over an Argentinian defender.
Murray didn’t have a perfect game though, as multiple times he had unnecessary turnovers and chose to avoid contact when driving to the paint instead of simply taking the foul.
To put it simply, he began to try to force plays rather than letting the opportunities come to him.
The beauty of that however, is that when Murray does make mistakes, they are aggressive in nature and never because he is unsure of himself when the ball is in his hands, which is a detrimental attribute if you want to be an elite point guard.
Murray would cool off in the second half and finish with 20 points in the game.
Canada would trail 50-44 going into the third, and would be down by as much as 13 due to poor spacing coverage that allowed Argentina to fire at will from long distance, making a number of big threes.
But just when all seemed lost, NBA veteran and Mississauga native Andrew Nicholson put the team on his back and had his way with the younger Argentinian post players for almost the rest of the game.
The current Orlando Magic forward led Canada with 24 points on the game, eight of which came at the end of the third quarter to help cut the deficit to seven entering the fourth.
From there, a combination of foul trouble and poor shooting from Argentina, and Canada’s unwillingness to surrender the paint led by Anthony Bennett and 7-foot-6 Sim Bhullar, eventually led to a Brady Heslip three in the dying seconds.
This finally put down a tough Argentina squad once and for all with an 88-83 win.
Canada now faces Mexico tonight at 6 pm at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Maple Leaf Gardens with a chance to stay perfect in their preliminary group.
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