The Junior Men's National Team went undefeated in pool play going 3-0 heading into the medal round and all roads look to be heading to the powerhouse that is the US. But before they can play that game, they have to beat Brazil.
Brazil is a traditionally strong team from the Americas and if you take into account the current NBA players hailing from there (Nene, Anderson Verejao, Leandro Barbosa and Tiago Splitter) there is good reason to be leery. From the limited information that can be gathered after midnight on a work day, here's what Can Ball Ray had come up with ...
For their tournament, Brazil was the other dominant team outside the US in Pool A. In their first two games, they beat both Mexico and the Virgin Islands by an average score of 14 points before they ran into the Americans who beat them by 19. What this should tell us observers is that Brazil is going to be a tough out, especially since their last loss was to the US and the Brazilians will likely be eager to play hard to make up for the bad loss particularly in their home stadium.
The team has what looks like a balanced offensive attack with their five heavy minutes guys (and this is a very loose term by the way) averaging at least 8 points. They are led by 6'7" forward Lucas Silva Dias who is averaging 17.3 points, 9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in his three contest followed by guard Deryk Ramos who's averaging 14 points, 3.3 assists and 1.5 boards himself.
I think the key will be getting these two players in check for the game and possibly letting other players beat them instead. I'm sure that the others are capable but will they be ready to step up is what's in my mind. Add to that, a possible quickness advantage in the backcourt and wing positions for Canada and maybe this could be a possible strategy.
My big concern is whether this will be a game that Canada will be up for. I've said it before when Canada beat up on Puerto Rico to start the tournament, will the kids be underestimating their opponents? I know that Coach Roy Rana and his staff will be prepared for this but the kids are all still kids after all. Brazil has guys that have been playing with men for the better part of their teenage years so the rugged toughness will be there. It will be, in my opinion, a matter of how well they handle the start of the game and if they can answer any scoring runs with defensive stops or runs of their own.
The ultimate opponent is going to be the US and they will be waiting on Wednesday. The big question will be can Canada get past this first hurdle called Brazil. I have a feeling that they can, and if the last three games are any indications, Canada may do so very handily but I'm not the guy who likes to count the proverbial chickens before they hatch.
First things first before the Gold medal game - handle Brazil.
Canada will be taking on Brazil tonight at 7:00pm EDT (8:00pm local time). Check out @CanBallReport on Twitter for the game links as we find them later on.