Ed’s Note: Raul still going strong. Follow him on Twitter.
In one of the most exciting games of the tournament, Team Canada fell this mourning to Venezuela in overtime 103–98 after being tied at 84 at the end of the regulation. It was the highest scoring match of the entire first round, one that ends tonight when Argentina faces Panamá. Both teams played an up-tempo game, and looked to exploit each other on the break as often as possible. Jermaine Anderson was Canada’s top scorer with 28 followed by former UConn Huskie Deham Brown with 19. Toronto native Cory Joseph had a quiet game with just 1 point, 2 assists and 3 rebounds in just 15 minutes.
With the blowout against Cuba yesterday and Dominican Republic’s win over Brazil, Canada came to this game knowing that if they beat Venezuela, there’ll be a tie at the top of Group B. But they came up short after fighting the entire game and now, they’ll face Argentina on Monday.
As usual, Carl English started strong with 9 of his team’s first 16 points. But Venezuela’s lone NBA player, Memphis Grizzlies back up PG Greivis Vazquez, had a prodigious outing. Vazquez finished with 29, followed by Hector Romero with 28. In the second round the four teams that advanced will play against the other four and then, the four best teams of both rounds will pass to the semifinals looking for a ticket to London 2012.
After three games each, both Spain and Lithuania remain unbeaten and will face each other tomorrow. Jonas Valanciunas saw very little action in the first game finishing scoreless, played 18 minutes in the second, fouling out with 7 points, 2 rebounds and 5 TO and didn’t played a single minute yesterday against a Turkey team that has Enes Kanter on the roster. For Spain, Jose Calderon is sharing point guard duties with Ricky Rubio and is averaging just 3 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists, but his role in the team isn’t scoring or putting big numbers. Spain is an insanely deep team that needs Jose’s playmaking abilities to set up the offense and create shots for the Gasol brothers, JC Navarro and even defensive specialist, Serge Ibaka. Until now, Spain hasn’t had too much opposition and is wining games by blowouts but tomorrow’s match up against Lithuania will be a nice test.
Andrea Bargniani is playing for Italy along with Belinelli and Gallinari. After losing their first two games Italy recovered yesterday against Latvia with a terrific performance from Bargnani who finished with 36 of his team’s 71 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. In his debut against Serbia, he ended up with a nice 22 and 9 but in the second day, against Dirk Nowitzki and Germany, he was clearly outplayed shooting just 3/14 for 8 points. As for tournament totals, he’s tied with Dirk with the third highest scoring average with 22, just behind Tony Parker and Pau Gasol.