Title: Joseph and Pangos find point guard chemistry as Canada wins first World Cup game since 2002
Date: September 5, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Canada notching their first group-stage win in a major tournament in nearly two decades.
Cory Joseph and Kevin Pangos figured it out.
On paper, starting the two point guards looked like a no-brainer for Canada entering the World Cup. They are two of the three best players who were available by the time the tournament began and while there’s some skill and role overlap, Canada’s uphill battle at this event necessitated they keep their best players on the floor as much as possible. They’re so much deeper at the point than anywhere else, playing multi-guard lineups was an inevitability, and Joseph and Pangos could clicking was Canada’s best chance for a functioning offence.
It took some time to find a chemistry, to feel out who should adjust their role and in which ways. Head coach Nick Nurse didn’t love the way those lineups looked in early exhibition games and then Joseph missed all five tune-ups in Australia. It wouldn’t be the end of the world for a player like Joseph or Pangos to come off the bench in the World Cup – Nikola Jokic was a down-ballot MVP candidate in the NBA and is doing so for Serbia — but it was preferable if it worked. There was reason to keep the faith. Joseph, in particular, has ample experience playing alongside other point guards, and two good players should eventually work it out.
It finally came together Thursday in an 82-60 victory over Senegal that sends Canada into classification games back on the right foot after a terribly disappointing start to the tournament.