Ed’s Note: Raul has a Twitter on one of the internets.
Canada had to work a little extra hard to beat Uruguay at FIBA Americas championship. After watching a 21-point lead collapse in the fourth, Team Canada needed two big plays in the fourth to finish off the South Americans, 70-68. Canada now needs to beat Panamá tomorrow and wait for Venezuela to lose to either Panamá today, or Uruguay tomorrow to get the 5th berth and a place at next year qualification in a last-ditch chance to be at London.
With Joel Anthony and Aaron Doornekamp out today and just 10 players in uniform, Levon Kendall stepped up for the team scoring 19 points, all before the final quarter. He also grabbed 11 rebounds. But his most important contribution was in the later moments. Up two with 20 seconds left, he guarded PG Martin Ossimani and blocked a layup that could have tied the game. The possession before that, guard Andy Rautins, who finished with 15 points, made a clutch three from the corner that put Canada ahead.
After leading by 21 in the third, Uruguay forced a comeback behind the scoring of Garcia Morales and the hustle of 19-year old Mathias Calfani. Calfani is flying under the radar of the NBA scouts but is in my opinion a very intriguing prospect who outplayed Brazil’s Augusto Cesar Lima on Monday. Lima is expected to be a first round pick in next year draft and is considered a solid big man with a great future.
As has been the norm, Canada once again boasted a balanced scoring attack, and an effective defensive plan that forced Uruguay to shoot just 32% from the floor. During the second quarter, Canada played some zone defense limiting Uruguay to just a 25% FG.
Tomorrow Canada will face Panamá, the weakest team in the second round that has a lone NBA representative in the Nuggets’ Gary Forbes.
Leo on being the only North American team in the tournament:
“We’re the different team, so it’s different with the officials, with everything because I can’t even talk to the officials. They’re talking to the players in Spanish but that’s the way it is, you have to keep playing”.
On Cory Joseph:
“I don’t think he had a bad tournament, It’s his first time playing. He’s a young player and he had only eleven practices with us. I think he’s going to be OK, he has a great attitude, he works hard, has high energy when he plays. We’re working on his shot, in his decisions. He’s going to be a very good player”.
On coaching his son:
“It’s fun, we’ve doing this for a while so it’s not an adjustment but It’s fun, I enjoy it and It’s a great experience. Sometimes I may be harder on him than with everybody else because the team has to see that. I can always watch him in the eyes and now if he’s going to play good or bad. I may not know that with every player but with him, I know that”.
On a short roster today with just 10 players on uniform:
“It hurt us bad. Joel Anthony is our best defensive player also Aaron Doornekamp had a concussion yesterday and he’s one of our fighters down low. He’s OK but he’s out of the tournament. Even Andy, my son, broke his nose yesterday, he had a slight concussion but he could play today even though it was a concern because if he was hit again it could be a problem”.
On Tristan Thompson absence:
“Tristan would have been great. We would love to have him. I hoped he’d be here. He would have been a great addition to this team and I want to have all the NBA players on the roster”.