Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph power Canada past Turkey in Fiba OQT opener
Tristan Thompson and the Canada national basketball team are off to a strong start. Jaime Campos

TRISTAN Thompson got most of the cheers, but Cory Joseph got the hot hands as Canada powers its way past Turkey, 77-69, for a rousing start in its Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament campaign Tuesday night.

Joseph, the Toronto Raptors back-up guard, scored 11 points in the third period when the Canadians went on a tear and established their biggest lead at 50-34.

The Turks would mount several rallies, but the Canadians had the game well under control that even when Joseph was whistled for his fourth foul with still five minutes remaining, they were comfortably ahead, 66-53.

The veteran NBA guard finished with 21 points to show the way for his team in the Group A victory.

Thompson, fresh from winning an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, added 10 points and six rebounds, while delighting the Mall of Asia crowd with several highlight reel plays.

Joseph also had five assists for the 26th ranked Canadians, who are tipped to crowd out France for the lone berth at stake here in the coming Rio De Janeiro Olympics.

"I thought Cory was outstanding. The way he had the feel for the game with his ability to play the pick-and roll," said Canada coach Jay Triano of his starting point guard.

"He got his teammates involved. He joined us a bit late, but he did a great job for us."

Although satisfied with the win, Joseph said the Canadians still have a lot to improve especially after being outrebounded by the Turks, 40-38.

Canada goes for a sweep of Group B when it plays debuting Senegal on Wednesday.

Turkey coach Ergin Ataman lamented the poor shooting of his team especially from the foul line, where the eight-ranked team went 19 of 34.

In particular, Ataman singled out Omer Asik of the New Orleans Hornets for struggling on offense, especially after making just two of the six foul shots awarded to him.

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"We need him to score. For that reason, I took him out. I hope in the next game of the tournament, he makes his free throws," he said of the Turkey big man who was held to just four points and six rebounds.

Making things worse for the Turkish is the injury suffered by Cedi Osman earlier in the fourth quarter after spraining his foot while going for the basket. He finished with 10 points and never returned.

Sinan Guler had 14 points to lead the Turks, who take a break on Wednesday.

The scores

Canada (77) - Joseph 21, Thompson 10, P. Scrubb 10, T. Scrubb 9, Ejim 7, Heslip 6, Ennis 6, Birch 4, Bennett 4.

Turkey (69) - Guler 14, Osman 10, Mahmutoglu 9, Batuk 8, Erden 8, Savas 7, Asik 4,Geyik 4, Korkmaz 2, Sipahi 2Muhammed 1, Arslan 0.

Quarterscores: 21-17; 39-30; 59-47; 77-69.

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