Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 11/20/14
San Antonio Spurs fans have watched closely as Cory Joseph led the Canadian National Team through the first round of the FIBA Americas Championship before Canada hit a few bumps in the road in the second round that eventually led to them losing out on a bid to the World Cup in Spain next summer. Joseph looked impressive and appeared to continually progress after a nice Finals run, followed by him leading the Spurs summer league squad in Vegas. Another player that has watched plenty of Joseph was right there with Joseph in Caracas as one of the city of San Antonio’s other representatives. Orlando Mendez-Valdez, a San Antonio native and Lanier High School graduate is currently starting at shooting guard for the Mexican National Team that has surprised many, especially considering they didn’t qualify for the FIBA Americas Championship and replaced Panama, who was banned from international play this summer. Mendez-Valdez, who naturally followed the Spurs growing up in San Antonio, had a chance to play against and defend Joseph in the first game of the second round of the tournament and gave me his thoughts on the young point guard after Mexico’s loss to Canada. “I thought he did a good job of controlling the tempo of the game,” Mendez-Valdez said. “He was smart in his decision making offensively, he did a bit of everything.” Joseph, who had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a well-rounded effort Mendez-Valdez spoke of, had a bit of a coming out party during the tournament before Canada’s run ended. Mendez-Valdez, who paced Mexico with 23 points, hopes Joseph’s success continues on into his next season with the Spurs. “I hope this helps him have a breakout season this upcoming year. Canada did a good job sharing the ball, passing up good shots for great shots,” he said. Joseph and Mendez-Valdez, who share a common tie to San Antonio, have been among a group of impressive guards in Caracas. Joseph averaged 16.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists while Mendez-Valdez is averaging 14.4 points, 2.6 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 55.9 percent from long range. Mendez-Valdez and Hawks big man Gustavo Ayon will lead Mexico in their semifinal match against Luis Scola and Argentina tomorrow.
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