Just one day after a dreadful 1-for-8 performance in the FIBA Americas semifinals, which helped contribute to the Canadians’ stunning defeat at the hands of Venezuela, Corey Joseph had a clutch performance down the stretch against host country Mexico on Saturday to steal the bronze medal.
With Canada down 86-85 to Mexico with less than seven seconds remaining, Joseph took the inbounds pass the length of the floor and nailed a step-back jumper to give his team the one-point win and the bronze medal in Mexico City.
He tallied 11 points, eight assists, and six rebounds the day after Canada had utterly collapsed against the scrappy Venezuelan team that ruined their bid for an Olympic berth in Rio next summer.
A win in the losers’ bracket is certainly cold comfort for a team that was supposed to leverage the FIBA Americas Championship as its big debut on the international hoops circuit, something Canada’s GM, Steve Nash, called “devastating.” But going home completely empty-handed would have been an even worse outcome.
Canada will still have other opportunities to secure a bid for the 2016 Olympics in one of next year’s qualifying tournaments, and they’ll definitely use their embarrassing meltdown in Mexico City as a lesson sorely learned about the perils of navigating the ever-treacherous waters of international basketball.
Their men’s national team boasts a bevy of young NBA talent, including Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk (who has been superb this tournament), Joseph, Nik Stauskus, and others, but their youth and inexperience ultimately proved to be their undoing this time around. Another year together as a unit – along with another season of NBA competition under many of their belts – should have them ready for another shot at qualifying for their country’s first Olympic appearance since Sydney 2000.