Canada center Tristan Thompson got the loudest cheers during the introductions and the Cleveland Cavalier didn’t disappointment on Tuesday night.
Doing what he does best on both ends, the 6-foot-9 Thompson, as expected, played big, helping Canada upset Turkey 77-69 in Group A while firing an ominous warning to its Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament rivals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Two weeks removed from helping the Cavaliers complete a remarkable comeback from a 1-3 deficit in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Thompson hardly showed any signs of slowing down, providing rim-rattling dunks, tireless work on the glass and solid defense down low against his Turkish counterparts, led by New Orleans Pelicans center Omer Asik and former Boston Celtic Semih Erden.
Thompson finished with 10 points, including an emphatic slam that highlighted their telling breakaway in the third frame, on top of 6 rebounds and 3 assists that somehow offset his 6 errors and an anemic 3-of-11 shooting from the field in almost 29 minutes of action.
“Tristan has a huge passion for his country and in the game of basketball. It’s been on his mind all the time,” said Canada coach Jay Triano of Toronto native.
Triano, 57, clearly admired Thompson’s dedication for his country in their bid to make this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by topping the Manila qualifiers.
“Even though he won (an NBA) championship (with Cleveland), he still loves to play for Canada.
And that’s a testament to how he plays the game as well with a lot of pride and a lot of effort. Its a big sacrifice, but he loves playing for Canada,” he shared. — By Jerome Lagunzad