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.

Leo Rautins:

“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.”

John Calipari:

“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”.

  • Guest

    good day for Canadian Pill

  • Stu jackson

    maybe we should do a roll call to fill the void

  • WJF

    I really appreciate the coverage of the Canadian national team, keep it up. 
    For the Leo detractors, did he just out coach Calipari? 

    • Quirk

      “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.”

      No, he got lucky. It happens. Fire Leo.

      • Nilanka15

        Happy about the win, but I share the same concerns about almost blowing a 10-point lead in the final minute.  Brutal…

    • Marc

      To Leo’s credit, he got better ball movement and spacing.  To his discredit, he almost let the game to slip away because of poor handling of the full-court press.  It’s a wash, but, good win.

      Watching the huddles, it almost seems like Leo is just a figurehead and that Italian assistant is doing all the coaching. 

  • Pstevens2

    Appreciate the coverage. Great stuff.

  • Nilanka15

    What’s the deal with Carl English?  He seems like he’d be a valuable piece off the bench on an NBA squad

    • p00ka

      I’m no authority on him, but it may be consistency. He looked like a lost high school player vs Brazil.

    • Sheptor

      He was projected to go as high as late first rd coming out of Hawaii by some mock drafts but never got drafted…The Raptors passed up on this Canadian for some scrub no doubt. He also looked like he was going to play for Indiana at some point. Its sad, because the guy is now 31 and will never play in the league but def. would have had a pretty good bench career. He was better than Rautins when he was Rautins age and he has the heart of a champion. His Parents died in a house fire when he was young and was raised by his grandparents or Uncle..can’t remember. Anyway he nearly made the NBA by practicing on a homemade hoop in a small town in Newfoundland where there is virtually no competition. Tour it up with his High School team and got offered a scholarship to Hawaii and led his team to the NCAA march madness and a bunch of school records. It’s sad that noone took a chance on this guy. He could/can really ball. I think his downfall was entering the draft early, but who knows.

  • Juicey

    Nice that they got the win.  A good test will be Cuba.  Good teams rise to the occasion when playing better teams, but are always capable of playing down to their competition.  A great team does not discriminate, they take it to their competition no matter who they are.