Saturday, 14 July 2007

Canada moves on; faces 3-0 Spain in next round

By virtue of Turkey's victory over Nigeria, Canada moves on to the so-called "eight-round", one of 12 teams remaining in the FIBA U19 world championships tournament in Serbia. Two new groups have been named with Canada in Group F along with Spain, Argentina, Korea, Australia and Turkey. Group E consists of USA (4 point winners over host Serbia today), Brazil, Serbia, China, France and Lithuania. Canada has 3 games scheduled beginning Monday against Spain, against the 3 teams in their group who they haven't yet played. The top 4 teams in each of Group E and Group F will advance to the championship quarter-finals beginning Friday, July 20th. Canada likely must win at least 2 of their 3 games to move on as follows:

Monday, July 16th Canada vs. Spain 2:30 PM Eastern time
Tuesday, July 17th Canada vs. Korea 9:45 AM Eastern time
Wed., July 18th Canada vs. Argentina 9:45 AM Eastern time

SPAIN PREVIEW: Spain is ranked third overall by FIBA and has produced several above average NBA players leveraging a solid junior system that is again producing quality player. Spain is one of this tournament's favorites and has a solid rotation of at least 8 players, led by 6'9" Victor Claver, a talented combination forward from Valencia who has been identified as an NBA prospect by numerous scouts and has drawn comparisons to Pau Gasol. Claver leads the entire tournament in scoring at 24.3 ppg including a scorching 7-13 from 3 point land while shooting 58% overall. 6'4" shooting guard Xavi Forcada had a team-high 23 points today in the group-clinching win against Korea and averages 20.0 ppg for the tournament. Spain has an intelligent, tough point guard in 6'2" Quim Colom, a stat sheet filler averaging 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game thus far in the tournament with a 4-8 mark from downtown. 6'9" Javier Vega (9.7 ppg/6.7 rpg) had a 13 point/11 rebound double-double in the tight, opening game victory against Puerto Rico. 6'7" Juan Cabot usually starts at the "3" spot while Spain has some quality depth at the point in 6'3" Richard Nguema (3.3 ppg/3.7 rpg in 18 mpg). Spain defeated Puerto Rico 91-89 in the first game as Claver led the way with 31, then fell behind 8-0 to Argentina in the second game before recovering for an 88-68 routing before defeating Korea by 97-80 earlier today. In a pre-tournament game in Spain, the Australians, who today defeated Canada by 11, were defeated by the Spaniards 79-70.

CANADA UPDATE: Coming off his second 30+ point effort of the first round, Devoe Joseph is the second leading scorer in the tournament behind Claver. Canada has received a solid effort from 6'7" Boris Bakovic, the only CIS player to make the Jr. National team roster. After a stellar freshman season for Ryerson U., Bakovic spent weeks upon weeks working with the Jr. National team staff in Toronto prior to the tryout camp and the results speak for themselves. Returning home to Serbia playing for Canada, Bakovic has showed off his combination of low-post and perimeter skills. Canada has relied on a smaller lineup in the first 3 games and with Spain not having a dominant true center in the lineup, could match up well with the tough Spaniards.

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