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Panama Sunk and What It Takes to Beat Charlie's Company

English and Rautins pass hot shooting hands to each other against Panama.  <em>(Hans Deryk, Reuters)</em><strong></strong>
English and Rautins pass hot shooting hands to each other against Panama. (Hans Deryk, Reuters)

The Can Ball Report give a Blinders look at the game against Panama and gives three keys to the game against the Dominican.  Could Canada finally make the field of an international basketball tournament? 


Canada is still alive!  Thanks to a timely win over Panama yesterday, Canada still has an outside chance of making the World Championships in this tournament people.  Let us rejoice!  The team has been playing its little game of Jekyll and Hyde throughout the Americas Tournament and yesterday Dr. Jekyll showed up.  Canada could not have played a better game, statistically speaking anyway, and the results show that the team is finally putting it all together at the right time.  Now seeing as how I was at work yet again and missed the game, here is another installment of the Can Ball Blinders Game report. 


Canada played a great game, and after coming off the tight loss to Brazil confidence must’ve been very high.  Taking that into account, Canada was able to handily dispose of Panama, by 22 no less.  Now let’s look at the stats and see what the three keys to the win yesterday were.


Turnovers and ball protection.  Canada was able to maintain possession of the ball only turning over the rock a tournament best seven times.  That is a great number particularly when this category is what has been the bane of Team Canada’s recent tournament history dating back to last summer.  For Canada’s to continue this success, it will always start and finish with protecting the ball on offense and it looks like it’s all coming together now on that front. 


Defense.  This game was an excellent defensive game for Canada.  Canada, outside of holding Panama to only 65 points, forced 20 turnovers and kept Panamas two leading scorers to under 40% shooting from the field (both Jaime Lloreda and Danilo Pinnock were a combined 12 of 34 from the field).  What should also be noted is that Canada also held Panama to 23% shooting from the three as well, below their tournament average of 35%. 


Shooters got the rock.  As I mentioned yesterday, the shooters need to get the ball for Canada to have a chance at winning games.  Well someone must got the memo because the both Carl English and Andy Rautins both got shots up, and in bunches.  Both of them combined to go 13 of 22 from the field and a  very good 7 for 14 from the arc.  Both scored in double digits with Rautins pouring in an extremely efficient 23 points in 20 minutes which included 5 of 7 from the three.   I should also mention that Jesse Young also got some good touches and despite his FG% (3 of 10) he did most of his damage from the free throw line going a perfect 8 of 8 to finish with 14 points.  This was a stark contrast to the previous game where they both barely touched the ball it seems and it’s clearly evident that they both need to be shooting for Canada to have a fighting chance at their next opponent.  

The game, according to the stats, was an excellent win on all levels with every player contributing to the win.  This is definitely good for morale and a much needed boost for the team. 


Now with that summary over I thought I’d try something new for this report and try to give a few keys to the upcoming game against the Dominican Republic.  The big things to watch for in tomorrow’s game would be the following:


First, make the other players beat you.  It’s unquestionable who the focus is on this Dominican team and if you don’t know it NBA guys Charlie Villanueva, Al Horford and Francisco Garcia with a touch of Luis Flores.  These four guys are the bulk of the points so we know where the ball is likely to go when on offense.  After them the point production drops off drastically as many of the remaining players don’t get to see much floor time or are not factored into the offense prominently.  Canada should make these guys the ones to shoulder the pressure.  I’m sure they are all capable players at this level but then the offense is geared to the four aforementioned players, Canada needs to force them to into the hero role where these players are likely to shrink. 


Second, play the ball pressure the offense often.  I know that the DR is a very athletic team but they have been turning the ball over in bunches all tournament.  Even in games they have easily won, the turnover numbers are still atrocious.  If Canada can apply the pressure successfully, the ball will get coughed up which should lead to easy buckets.  I imagine that if the Canadians can get at least 18 turnovers from the Domincans (which is not as hard as it may seem), there will be a good chance of winning the game. 


Lastly, all the Canadian players need to look to draw fouls from the starting five.  As I mentioned earlier, the Dominicans play Charlie V, Garcia, Horford and Flores heavy minutes.  Now I know that they have been playing over 30 minutes on average for the tournament and Garcia had missed a game earlier due to injury so could fatigue set in early for these guys.  Canada should look to draw fouls from these four players and see if the role players can pick up the slack.


So here are the keys to the coming game.  If Canada can ride this great game against Panama into the Dominican game in the evening, then there is a good chance that the Red and White will be in the game late.  The Dominican had beat Panama in their earlier meeting this tournament by double digits so I’m sure that DR will not be an easy game.  As far as anyone is concerned this is the most important game for the Road Warriors in this tournament.  Canada will need to dig in really deep and leave it out on the floor tomorrow if they want to qualify here in San Juan and not be in a play in tournament next year. 

*  Canada will play the Dominican Republic at 6:30pm.  The Score will show the game time delayed at 10:00pm *