Milwaukee Bucks’ Tyler Ennis Key To Canada Win Over Senegal

Nov 7, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Tyler Ennis (11) takes a shot against Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) in the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 7, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Tyler Ennis (11) takes a shot against Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) in the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

Canada advance to Olympic qualifying semi-finals in Philippines behind an impressive performance from Milwaukee Bucks guard Tyler Ennis.

Giannis Antetokounmpo will understandably grab the bulk of the attention from Wednesday’s international play, but another Milwaukee Bucks youngster made an important contribution to his national team too.

Hours before Giannis and Greece took to the floor in their qualifying tournament in Turin, Italy, it was the turn of Canada and Tyler Ennis in Manilla, Philippines.

Having picked up a win in their opening group game against Turkey on Tuesday, the Canadians entered their matchup with Senegal assured of a spot in the semi-finals, but eager to win to emerge from their group as a top seed.

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Having already defeated the team assumed to be their toughest group stage opponent, perhaps the Canadians entered Wednesday’s game a little complacent.

From the opening tip, Senegal went toe-to-toe with their considerably more well established opponents and threatened a major upset throughout the duration of the 40 minute contest.

The Canadians struggled thanks to an abysmal shooting night. Shooting percentages of 32.3 percent from the field and only 11.8 percent from three-point range generally don’t lend themselves to wins, and that task certainly wasn’t made easier by eight Senegalese blocks, including five from Maurice Ndour.

Luckily for the Canadians, after a quietly effective showing in their opening game of the tournament, Tyler Ennis was much more forceful against Senegal and provided an invaluable contribution to his team.

Ennis got started early, notching Canada’s first points thanks to some nice dribble penetration, and that was a strategy that was there for him throughout the contest.

After two alley-oop assists in the game against Turkey, Ennis continued to flash his vision and ability when it comes to finding men on their way to the basket. This beautiful look away pass led to an easy finish for Anthony Bennett.

For the second straight game, Canadian team captain Cory Joseph led his country in scoring, and Ennis played his part in that with a nice assist also.

In terms of scoring, Ennis thrives in coming off screens and finding paths to the basket. On this occasion still early in the first quarter, already in rhythm, the 21-year-old showed good patience in waiting for another Tristan Thompson screen. Once Thompson had pinned the man guarding Ennis to create the mismatch, the point guard showed the big man switched on to him a nice hesitation move before blowing by him for an easy layup.

With the game still neck and neck, Ennis good play continued into the second period. A trusty weapon in the arsenal of any backcourt player, Ennis even demonstrated this rangy, teardrop floater from the free throw line.

It wasn’t all good for Ennis on the night, but even the negatives were a result of a positive and aggressive approach to the game.

Ennis had his shot blocked on three occasions, which was unsurprising due to his determination to get to the rim as often as he could. That relentless driving also earned Ennis six free throw attempts, although uncharacteristically for the career 73 percent NBA shooter, he only managed to make 2-6 at the charity stripe.

Ennis continued to combine well with Thompson on offense, as even when not originating from the pick-and-roll, the point guard and big man were finding ways to combine to create easy baskets for their team.

For as effective as the Senegalese were in many facets of the game, they just couldn’t contain Tyler Ennis’ speed. Leaking out in transition was only ever going to guarantee the young Bucks guard easy points.

As the game approached the final stretch, Canada remained unable to open up any meaningful cushion on the scoreboard.

With only three points between the teams and the final two minutes approaching, Ennis came up with one more vital basket by utilizing his speed and reliable reverse layup to get an important two points.

Although the Canadians were given a real scare, and won’t take any inspiration forward from their shooting, they managed to hold on and grind out a result.

Canada came out on top 58-55, sealing their progression as group winners. They will return to action in the semi-finals in the Philippines on Saturday, against the loser of Thursday’s game between New Zealand and France.

Ennis finished the Senegal game with 12 points, three assists and one rebound on 5-12 shooting from the field.

Next: Giannis Antetokounmpo Leads Greece To Olympic Qualifying Semi-Finals

Much like Antetokounmpo’s Greece, Ennis and Canada have achieved the first part of the job en route to qualification. Now they just need to finish the mission in the coming days.