GWANGJU, South Korea (Team Canada) – The Canadian men's basketball team improved its record to 2-0 with an 81-61 win over Mexico on Sunday afternoon at Gwangju University Gymnasium. Canada is now tied with Russia for first place in Group B, with three preliminary games remaining.
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Centre Chris McLaughlin (University of Victoria) led the offensive efforts with 26 points, while Ottawa's Johnny Berhanemeskel added 16 with three assists.
Canada got off to a fast start, getting down the floor quickly and showing crisp ball movement. Jahmal Jones (Ryerson) hit a corner three, then kicked a pass out for Berhanemeskel who was spotted up in the other corner. The Canucks led 21-14 after the first quarter and played a clean frame with zero turnovers.
Mexico's intensity rose in the second quarter, but the defensive rotations and rebounding by Canada were solid. Ten first-half points from Berhanemeskel led Canada to a 34-23 halftime lead.
Mexico brought the lead under ten, pulling within eight with 2:39 remaining in the third. Canada closed out the quarter with 4-for-4 free throw shooting and transition buckets by McLaughlin and Jordan Baker to stretch back out to a 53-39 lead.
Berhanemeskel dished to McLaughlin for a pretty finish to open the fourth and Canada cruised through the final minutes with a twenty point lead. The team shot 9-29 from long distance in the game, with four coming in the fourth quarter.
"We're getting more comfortable and I think we've passed the point where we need to think through the systems and we know each other's tendencies now," said McLaughlin, who also emphasized the trust being built to pass out from the post. "Whether or not I have a shot in the post, I know I have guards to pass it out to which makes it really dynamic."
On Monday, Canada will meet Montenegro (1-1) at 5:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. ET) for the team's third game in as many days.