Spurs draft pick Joseph helps Canada deny Dominicans

By Mike Monroe

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina — Canada’s 12-point fourth-quarter lead had slipped to two in its match against a Dominican Republic team full of NBA talent at the FIBA Americas pre-Olympic championships Thursday.

Just 4.2 seconds remained after Domincan Republic’s Francisco Garcia nailed a 3-point basket, and the post-timeout trigger man for Canada’s inbounds play was former Texas star and Spurs first-round draft pick Cory Joseph.

What flashed through Joseph’s brain as the referee handed him the ball?

“No repeat of March Madness,” Joseph said after his six points, four assists and one perfect inbounds pass helped Canada score a 73-72 victory over a team that had NBA All-Star Al Horford, plus Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva and Garcia, a guard for the Kings.

Joseph was whistled for a questionable five-second violation in Texas’ NCAA tournament loss to Arizona in March, but Canada coach Leo Rautins had no qualms about trusting him with a key play that carried similar pressure.

“Actually, I saw that game, and I thought that was a quick whistle,” Rautins said. “No way it was five seconds.

“Given that, no worries.”

Joseph was the sole Spurs-related player in action on the third day of the FIBA event. Both Manu Ginobili’s Argentine team and Tiago Splitter’s Brazilian team were idle.

Joseph has moved into the starting point guard spot for Canada, which gave Brazil a tough go on Wednesday. He logged 22 minutes and 19 seconds against the Dominican Republic, making two of three shots and adding two steals, while committing only one turnover.

“We’re just trying to execute our game plan, and tonight I thought we did that very well,” Joseph said. “I’m just trying to get into the paint and facilitate.

“It was a great win, of course. They’ve got some NBA talent and some other great players, as well. Now we’ve gotten our first win of the tournament, and we hope to get more. We’ve got to focus on our game tomorrow and try to get another one.”

France 85, Israel 68: In Siauliai, Lithuania, Spurs guard Tony Parker scored 21 points as France earned its second win of the EuroBasket competition, overwhelming Israel 85-68 for its second win.

“As soon as Tony took over, it was over for us,” Israel coach Arik Shivak said.

The Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah had nine rebounds and nine points for France, while the Portland Trail Blazers’ Nicolas Batum had 15 points. Mickael Gelabale added 13.

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