All Canada Classic Game Recap: Kabongo, Mullings Shine
Published by Steven Loung on June 16, 2010
The stars were shining bright on June 14 as the biggest names in Canadian high school basketball were present under one roof to participate in PHASE 1 All Canada Classic.
Underneath the bright lights of the Air Canada Centre, 20 of the most talented players in the country were split into two teams, White and Red, to compete against each other.
Team White barely edged out Team Red 103-101 thanks to game MVP, Findlay Prep’s Myck Kabongo’s 39 points.
Kabongo was slow to start, scoring only seven points in the first half, but the Toronto native came alive and put on a show for the hometown fans, scoring 32 points in the second half, including 19 in the third quarter.
“I was thinking too much in the first half, and in the second half I had to pick it up for my team,” Kabongo said.
Daniel Mullings led the way for Team Red scoring 32 points and also playing some outstanding defense which included two spectacular run-down blocks in the fourth quarter on Kabongo, and UNLV commit Grandy Glaze that was reminiscent of NBA all-star’s LeBron James’ signature defensive play.
“I love LeBron [James],” Mullings said. “His tenacity on defence, how he gets back on help defense, how he gets his team involved. I look up to him a lot.”
Both Mullings and Kabongo were able to score in very similar fashions. Making good use of their quick first steps, excellent ball handling skills and athleticism to get to the hoop consistently.
Kabongo also showed great touch from outside, nailing four triples as apart of his 19 point third quarter outburst. A skill that will be a great asset for his future University of Texas days.
The game itself was played very tightly with Team Red being up 26-25 at the end of the first quarter highlighted by the versatile game of Jesuit’s Kyle Wiltjer who knocked down a triple, scored on a post move, and made an impressive drive to the basket.
“I can shoot the ball well so I think they have to respect that, and it opens up more things in my game like taking it to the hoop, or posting up because I don’t think people are expected all of that,” Wiltjer said.
In the second quarter Red extended their lead to 54-48 thanks to a couple of triples from Martin Grove’s Matthew Wright, and strong play from Stefan Nastic. At the half, the leading scorers were Mullings with 16 and Nastic with 14.
Nastic will be playing ball for Stanford come September and he thought playing in the Air Canada Centre was good preparation for the large crowds that he will experience when he heads south of the border.
“It was a great experience,” Nastic said. “5000, 4000 [people], and playing on that kind of floor is just something to prepare me for college and the future.”
Come the third quarter, the Kabongo show started in full force, but, unfortunately for Team White, when he was taken out near the end of the quarter, the Team Red lead, which was seven, ballooned back up to 10 with the score being 81-71 at the end of the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Team White were able to come roaring back thanks to an effort to go inside to Scarborough native Maurice Walker and the strong play of Kabongo.
Defence played a key role in the comeback, and it all started with a sequence of four consecutive blocks, the two outstanding Mullings blocks, an incredible weak-side recovery block by 6’5” Laurent Rivard, (who will be playing for Harvard University in September), on 7-foot-4 Sim Bhullar, and a block by Walker on Team Red point guard Kevin Pangos.
This sequence would spark a run by Team White and put them up by three points with a little under two minutes to play.
At 1:52, Pangos would tie the game with a pull-up three-pointer and make the game 99-99.
After that, the two teams would go back and forth with thanks to a made shot by Cornell bound Manny Sahota, a couple free throws made by Nastic, and a tough two from Kabongo to put the game at 103-101 for Team White.
Then, with the game on the line, Nastic found himself with the ball, took the shot, and saw it just rim out to keep the score at 103-101 for Team White as the buzzer went off.
The game was over and the crowd couldn’t have hoped for a more entertaining game.
This was the kind of event that was an indication of the start of something special starting in Canada and the crowd’s raucous roar signified they understood just as the players did.
“Canada has some elite basketball players,” Kabongo said. “People around the nation [will be saying] Canada has some elite players, and I’m just happy to part of this big wave and this whole movement that’s going on right now.”
A movement that, according to Walker, is bringing Canada’s basketball level to be on par with the United States.
“These guys are just as good as the guys in the States,” Walker said. “People always say that basketball in the States is better, but the group of players that were here today are just as good as anyone that you’ll find in the states.”
Basketball in Canada is growing fast, the 10th annual PHASE 1 All Canada Classic was a major success, and a major stepping stone for basketball in this nation.
Myck Kabongo 6-foot-2 Point Guard
The speed and quickness of Kabongo was unmatched, suffered the first half but truly showed what he’s made as the game progressed. Has incredible feel for the game, tight handles and can get to the rim at will. Even though he looked to score more in this game he still showed his court vision, finding the open man and created plays for others. Was out of control at time but was able regroup and put on a spectacular performance with the win. A special talent.
Daniel Mullings 6-foot-2 Combo Guard
Other than Myck, Mullings created the most buzz leaving the event. Thin but Mullings has wiry strength and is explosive, has the ability hang in the air and finish strong while taking the contact. Very entertaining player to watched, never ending motor (NEVER gives up on a play), take pride on locking down opposing guards, active in the passing lanes, impressed the fans with his high flying blocks and dunks. Mullings was the most consistent player in the game. Does all the little things that could go unnoticed.
Stefan Nastic 6-foot-11 Center
Though is a All star game this was one of the better games I’ve seen the Stanford bound center play, its evident Nastic has intriguing skill set at his size, but he looked much more aggressive in every aspect of the game. Excellent running the floor and finishing transition buckets attacked the basket off the dribble, back to the basket moves, one dribble fake to the right shoulder, then a turnaround hook shot. An impressive showing from the big man.
Kyle Wiltjer 6-foot-9 Forward
First look at Wiltjer and was not disappointed, he does a bit of everything, handle, shoot, drive and is unselfish. Has good basketball IQ and seems very coach able, the potential is there.
Maurice Walker 6-foot-10 Center
Used the drop step up and under move to quite well, showed a soft touch around the basket. Was influential down the stretch of the game.
Mathew Wright 6-foot-3 Shoot Guard
Wright showed his smooth touch and range, shot the ball well from deep, nailing pull up jumpers from the NBA range. He played at his own pace and always under control. Solid performance.
By: Steven Loung & Gilbert Muako