Ed’s Note: Raul’s at the games. Follow him on Twitter, or don’t, he could care less.
In the third day of the competition, Canada upset a talented Dominican Republic team, 73-72. The Canadians played an excellent defensive game which was helped by a string of poor offensive performances from Calipari’s team, and it resulted in the first true surprise of the FIBA Americas.
Canada got off on the right foot with Carl English showcasing a great outside touch mixed in with intelligent movement on the perimeter. English finished the period with 8 points, including two threes. Canada finished going 10/23 from deep, and compared to the first game, shared the ball much better and created open looks that translated into a higher field-goal percentage. The outside shooting kept the floor spread consistently, allowing Canada’s offense to function far more fluidly than against Brazil.
The second half, especially the first minutes of the fourth belonged to the coach’s son – Andy Rautins. He hit five threes, two of them were were completely unbalanced, low-percentage shots that you’d attribute to someone like Marco Belinelli. These difficult shots kept the team in the game when the offense looked to be in a drought, and were a key factor in the win.
The most notable disappointment today was Charlie Villanueva, the former Raptor was 0/2 from the floor in just 7 minutes in which he committed 4 personal fouls (three of them offensive) and 4 turnovers. He looked frustrated and seemed to try to correct his mistakes by making more mistakes, never a good strategy. Joel Anthony singular battle against the size and strength of the Dominican frontcourt personified by Jack Michael Martinez and Al Horford was something to behold. Anthony ended with 8 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks and 4 very important free throws in crunch time. However, Dominican Republic finished with 18 offensive boards and won the battle of the boards 45-38. Horford finished with 17 and 11, and Jack Michael Martinez with 21 and 16. Massive performances from them, but Anthony did well to make their life difficult, even though the stats might not reflect that.
Canada was up 10 with less than a minute left which is when Calipari went with a full court press, to which coach Rautins took too long to respond before finally putting in both point guards to alleviate the pressure. It almost cost Canada the game, but clutch FT performances sealed the win.
Tomorrow Canada will face Cuba, the weakest team in the tournament looking for another win and better positioning for the second round that starts on Monday. Remember, this tournament gives two tickets to next year’s Olympics in London.
“We play great defense for 35 minutes and we win the game despite some poor execution defensively at the end. The Domincan Republic is one of the most talented teams in the tournament but we play good defense and find the way to get the win. There’s no easy game here, every team is tough even Cuba tomorrow.”
“I give Canada a lot of credit. They play great defense. We shot just 37% from two point ball. A lot of those were close to the basket and they were all over us. They shot 43% from the three point line and we still have a chance to win the game so I give them all the credit. They defended they played physical”.
“Charlie is still trying to stay healthy, he practiced just two times with us. And there were three charge fouls. I would play him more if they didn’t call those offensive fouls”.
“We shot 34% and we still have chance to win. We didn’t play in sync. Canada’s defense was good, they played very physical”.