MVPs Jalen Poyser (left) and Jamal Murray (right) were the stars in the inaugural BioSteel All-Canadian Basketball Game on Apr. 14 in Toronto, Ont.

Jamal Murray making strong case to be Canada’s next big basketball star

Combo guard picks up back-to-back MVP honors in major hoop showcases

Jamal Murray is on an absolute tear of late.

The Kitchener product scored a game-high 29 points while recording 10 rebounds, eight assists, and three steals but it wasn’t enough for Team White as its frantic fourth quarter comeback came up short to Team Red in a 99-95 loss in the inaugural BioSteel All Canadian Basketball Game held at the Mattamy Athletic Centre Tuesday night.

Murray single handedly sparked Team White, down nine with five minutes to go. The 18-year-old point guard shouldered the offensive burden all night, and did so again in the final frame by hitting an array of difficult shots in the paint to lead the charge.

Red’s Justin Jackson had a strong take that resulted in a bucket plus the foul with less than a minute to play. The ensuring offensive rebound on the free throw made it a two-possession game and sealed the victory.

Team Red put together a 9-0 run to open the fourth quarter that ultimately gave them enough of a cushion.

Nelson Kaputo took centre stage during the spurt as he nailed a high-reaching floater following a dazzling dribbling display. Kaputo then hit a tough contested step-back three on the next possession to give the red squad a 79-70 lead.

Murray, who was named the MVP for his team, was the unquestioned star of the night despite the loss, .

“It’s almost like he sees the game in slow motion, he’s almost picking (the defence) apart as he’s bringing the ball up the floor,” said coach Paul Melnik.

“He makes some shots and I’m looking at the assistant coaches and I’m thinking ‘wow, this guy is for real.’”

The 6-foot-6 guard knows that with the added attention he is now in the crosshairs of many up and coming Canadian prospects trying to make a name for themselves.

“Mentally preparing for the game,” Murray said when answering how he is able to repeatedly perform in the high profile events that include MVP honors at the Nike Hoop Summit this past Saturday and the 2013 Michael Jordan Brand Classic.

“Knowing that (I’m) playing against some guys who are trying to take (my) spot and use that will and that hunger to get better. I’m always trying to hold my own and keep my ground to win games.”

Other notable contributors for the White Team included Corey Johnson with 18 points, Matur Maker with a double-double of 14 and 14, and Jerome Desrosiers who added 14 and a number of emphatic dunks.

Jalen Poyser dropped in 21 points, four rebounds and was named the MVP for the winning Red team while Abu Klgab chipped in with 16 points and Jackson added 14 points and seven rebounds.

The inaugural game was created in an attempt to highlight the best Canadian high school prospects from coast to coast, similar to the McDonald’s All-American Game that has existed for over forty years now and regularly showcases future NBA players.

“It’s a great thing that they’ve started here,” said Team Red’s coach Gus Gymnopoulos, swarmed by media outlets following the game. “I think it’s only going to grow bigger.”

The event saw a host of well-known media outlets, personalities and ambassadors of the game in attendance.

The match was nationally televised by TSN with Leo Rautins, Toronto Raptors color commentator, and Dan Shulman making the call while Steve Nash watched from the bleachers.

Musicians Jully Black and Chocolair performed the halftime show.

Follow Jose on Twitter at @coloradourb.