In the preliminary round of the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship, Mexico caught a lot of people off guard. This Mexican team wasn’t expected to make much noise in the tournament as they had failed to qualify, but were able to compete after Panama was banned from international competition this summer. However, after going 3-1 in the prelims, this Mexican team seems to be looking to prove a point.
Even with an 89-67 loss to Canada in their first game of the second round, this Mexico team still seems like they could cause some trouble. The catalyst for their early success in the tournament has undoubtedly been their lone current NBA player and new Atlanta Hawks big man, Gustavo Ayon.
Ayon is expected to compete for minutes off of the bench in Atlanta this season and, as I’ve written recently, he has shown signs that he could be successful in that role. His play for Mexico in this tournament has definitely backed up that claim.
Through five games Ayon is averaging a solid 18 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, both of which are currently tops for any player in the tournament. More than that, he’s also averaging a solid 1.8 blocks, 1.8 assists and one steal per game while also shooting 62.1 percent from the floor.
Obviously the competition in this tournament, when a lot of countries haven’t sent their A-squad, isn’t going to be the best for Ayon. However, on Thursday against Canada where he was playing against Andrew Nicholson, Tristan Thompson and Joe Anthony in the post, all three of whom are serviceable-or-better NBA players, Ayon was still impressive as he put up 19 points, 11 boards, two steals and one block in 32 minutes and while shooting 7-12 from the field.
Ayon hasn’t shown us much that we couldn’t already expect. He’s confident when he gets the ball in the post and shines when you see him moving off of the ball where he’s incredibly active and smart with the cuts and decisions that he makes. If he can continue to show these things for Atlanta in the upcoming season, that’s going to make an already talented Hawks team even more dangerous.
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