Well, the 2015 Pan Am Games has come to an end. A lot of different Canadian storylines arose during these games, two of them being on the hardwood. The Canadian Men’s and Women’s National Teams both succeeded in setting program records at the Pan American Games. The women, mentioned in a previous post, won the gold medal in dramatic fashion against the United States. This is the first gold Canada has captured in women’s basketball at the Pan Am Games.
The Men’s team looked to follow the footsteps of the women after defeating rival USA in a thrilling overtime – err, extra time (ET) as per international rules — semi-final game which saw The Jamal Show, starring Jamal Murray. Unfortunately for the host country, a disciplined and skilled Brazilian team got out to an early lead in the gold medal game and, aside from a brief moment in the 4th quarter when the Canadians cut the lead down to as little as 6, never looked back.
I talked about my views of the Pan Am Games previously, and why it was a perfect scenario for 18-year-old Jamal Murray and 2013 Number #1 overall NBA draft pick and current Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Bennett to step up to the plate and play some impressive basketball. Murray had lots of attention on him at the Pan Ams because he’s a young, promising prospect about to play for one of the best basketball programs in the United States. Bennett equally had the eye of many as he looked to prove that his slump to start his NBA career is just that. Both were given an opportunity to demonstrate their game and both rose to the occasion.
The part I liked best was watching Bennett and Murray on the floor together and seeing the confidence that young Murray played with. Here he is on the floor with a 2-year pro in the NBA in Bennett, and he’s out there playing like he’s the best player on the court. Between handing out assists and hitting big time shots, Murray impressed with great performances and has the charisma to electrify the crowd. There’s a certain swagger to his game that Canada hasn’t seen in a basketball player.
Throughout the competition Murray averaged 16 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Teammate Anthony Bennett averaged 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds, a solid double-double average at any level of basketball.
Next year Jamal Murray will have international attention as he plays for John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats. With his stellar play at the Pan Am Games, Murray has more than proved he’s more than ready to step into the limelight. Keep your eyes on Kentucky for something special.
*All image credits can be found on the References & Resources page.