Italy soaring with win over Finland, Canada sliding in loss to Dominican Republic


On Saturday, San Antonio Spurs guards Cory Joseph and Marco Belinelli returned to FIBA international play as Italy continued to soar in the FIBA Eurobasket tournament with a 62-44 victory over Finland, while Canada lost its second straight game in the second round of the FIBA Americas tournament with a close 81-74 loss to the Dominican Republic.

The Italians stayed perfect (3-0) at Eurobasket by locking Finland down in the last three quarters of the game in which they held Finland to just 27 points after the first quarter. Belinelli didn't have his best shooting day going 2-of-13 from the field for 7 points and collecting 4 rebounds in his 30 minutes, but his contribution to the team defense was still a factor in earning the win.

After building an early 28-18 lead after the first quarter, the Canadian offense could never find a way to score more than 17 points in a quarter the rest of the way as the Dominican Republic held on for the win handing Canada back-to-back losses in two days. Joseph finished as Canada's third leading scorer with 13 points 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal. Joseph was responsible however for 6 of Canada's 16 turnovers in his 30 minutes of play.

In Group D of Eurobasket, Italy is tied with Greece at 3-0 and with an accumulated 6 points. By the time Sunday is over, one team will be the clear leader of Group D as both teams will face each other.

As for Canada, they continue to stay tied for the 4th position with an accumulated 9 points in the second round. Argentina and Venezuela are also slotted with Canada in the 4-6 position. Canada will face Argentina on Sunday.

After Saturday's loss, General Manager of the Canadian National team/Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash took to Twitter to offer some encouragement to the young struggling Canadian team.