Canada wins a tight game against a Villanueva/Horford led Dominican squad to get a seat at the World Championships. This win is huge, really it is!
Canada has qualified for the 2010 World Championships!!! I am both shocked and elated that Canada has qualified for Turkey. Having defeated the Dominican Republic in, what I heard was, a dramatic game has shown what type of leap the national program has taken in a short span of time.
The Can Ball Report outlined some keys yesterday for Canada if they were to have a shot at winning the game against the Dominican. Make the other players beat them, pressure the ball and keep the four stars at bay and in foul trouble. So let’s run down what the results were.
Canada did try to make other players beat them keeping the big three to under 20 points each (sad I know) but that was assisted by the loss of Francisco Garcia who did not play due to injury. The defensive pressure was there during the game I’m sure but DR still out rebounded Canada by 11 and the turnovers were even at 14 apiece. And none of the key players seemed like their minutes were adversely affected by foul trouble.
So what does that tell you about our prognosticating? Absolutely nothing. It simply tells you and us here that Canada is still capable of pulling out games despite doing some things wrong that would clearly lead to defeat. This, my friends, is called growth.
This win to earn a place at the basketball table in Turkey next year is a huge step for Canada Basketball in the right direction. Now just how huge a step you may ask? Let’s do some quick history.
Since the remarkable showing that Canada had at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney when the Nash led team placed seventh, the program has been on a steady slide. The program has lost some key players over the ensuing years that have tasted the success of the summers past and there really hasn’t been a strong contingent of people, both on and off the court, to continue on and build on that success. But now we have new players tasting new success. This should be enough to keep the fire going until the Worlds.
So what does the win against the Dominican signify? The win signifies that all the promises are slowing being fulfilled and the expectations are being realized. Forget that we are missing other players who are more “talented” or could really help the team. This current team is showing something to us now - that they can compete with the best. The tournament has been a build up from a great summer of competing and it’s showing that this was worth the wait.
The next game that Canada faces is, as one reporter had put it, inconsequential at this point. Whether the team beats Brazil today or not really doesn’t matter. The game will only hold seeding implications for Canada in Turkey. But if Canada brings home a medal or not, who really cares. This team’s goal was to qualify for the Worlds and this goal was achieved. The Road Warriors were true to their word this summer. Now let’s see what kind of promises the team has in store for the Turkey.
Three keys to the Brazil Game
Slow down Leandro Barbosa. I know that this is a tall order since trying to slow him down is like trying to slow down a bullet train with fishing net. Despite that, Canada needs to try and contain him and do so early in the game.
Keep the fouls down. In the last meeting, Canada gave up 26 fouls which led to 21 free throws. Brazil made 18 of them. If Canada had cut down the foul number to by five, that could have been the difference between winning or losing the game. Canada needs to manage their fouls and be mindful of the situations they are in to prevent them as much as possible.
Make anyone not named Barbosa beat you. Barbosa had 31 of Brazil’s 68 points. If Canada can force the ball out of his hands and make the other players make the plays, Canada should be in the game at the end. Brazil seems to go with a very short bench so forcing others to into the pressure shots, especially this late in the tournament, fatigue should factor in and hopefully cause more makes than misses.
What Canada must do also
Keep turnovers low. Canada needs to keep the rock protected in this game again, like in all games. Particularly since Barbosa and company can turns misplays with the ball into an easy two at blinding speed.
Continue to mak the three. Canada needs to keep hitting the three to equalize anything they lack in low post scoring. These perimeter shots will open up the middle for the interior games of Young and Anthony as well as lanes for Famutimi.
Team effort. Canada doesn't have a star players so to speak so everyone who sees the floor today will need to make positive contributions to the cause. Anderson had a breakout game yesterday when English and Young didn't. Everyone is capable of contributing so who will it be this time to surprise us.
* Canada tips off against Brazil today at 6:30pm to see who will play for gold tomorrow *