TORONTO — For the second time in as many games, a big fourth quarter saved the day for Canada.
While Brady Heslip broke the game open in Thursday’s victory over Jamaica, Andy Rautins got in on the action Saturday, scoring eight of his 11 points in the final quarter.
Rautins came up big as Canada stormed back from a 17-point deficit to defeat Jamaica 77-72 and complete a sweep of the Jack Donohue International Classic.
"As a leader on the team, as an older veteran a guy on the team, that’s the role I need to play," Rautins said. "To bring that energy, to bring that shooting. That’s what we did tonight and we gutted it out and got a great win."
Desperate for scoring in the fourth quarter, head coach Jay Triano paired Rautins with Brady Heslip in hopes of stretching the floor with two shooters in the lineup. It paid off.
"Andy’s a scorer and we needed points," Triano said. "We had planned before this game on not playing him in the first half, we needed to look at other guys, but in the second half we knew that if they played zone we’d need those two guys."
Playing without Samardo Samuels, who missed the game with a tweaked hamstring, Jamaica looked like a different team than Thursday’s iteration. The visitors connected from beyond the arc early and exposed Canada’s lack of shooters on the floor.
Leading 26-25 after the opening quarter, Jamaica stretched its lead to 49-37 at the half after making eight of 11 attempts from deep before halftime.
"I give them a lot of credit, they shot the ball extremely well in the first half," Triano said. "Our defence held them to nine [points] in the fourth quarter. We clamped down at the end when we had to and that’s what we’re trying to do, we just need to do it from the beginning of the game."
Veterans Levon Kendall and Jermaine Anderson helped Canada trim the deficit to nine at the end of three quarters. Thompson, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers and was named player of the game, scored his 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds.
"It’s huge," Rautins said of Thompson’s impact. "Offensive rebounding is huge for him. It’s what he does. He makes a lot of money doing that. We’re going to need him to do that for us game in and game out. He’s done a great job of improving his hook game. Even switching to his right hand, he’s still knocking down shots."
The game was intense from the opening tip and players let the officials know their thoughts on the non-calls as the game wore on. While it is an adjustment for NBA players like Thompson, Cory Joseph and Andrew Nicholson to get used to the officiating in the international game, veterans with experience abroad spent their time on the sidelines encouraging their teammates from the bench.
"Having played in the NBA, having played overseas, it’s like a different world," Rautins explained. "The international game, it’s like another world. It’s almost like a rugby match out there."
Patrick Ewing Jr. led the way for Jamaica, scoring a game-high 20 points in the loss.