Monday, 27 August 2007

Canada faces virtual "must win" today vs. Uruguay

The second round of the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifier begins today in Las Vegas and Canada, 1-2 after preliminary play (games against advancing teams count in a team's record going forward), faces what is in all likelihood a "must win" situation today against Uruguay, who finished their Group A action last night with a come-from-behind win over Mexico. Uruguay did just enough to win and tried to rest a number of their top players but make no mistake: Uruguay is led by 6'11" lefty Esteban Batista (Atlanta Hawks) who is not a flashy athlete but understands how to use his body inside to get free and is a great finisher. It also usually takes time to get used to playing lefty's defensively and therefore Canada's post defense will have to shine this afternoon, beginning at 3:30 PM ET. However, Uruguay also has a noted outside threat in 6'0" Nicolas Mazzarino, who scorched Mexico for 36 points on 8-13 shooting from 3 point land. However, Mazzarino can also be controlled as witnessed by his scoreless effort in 20 minutes in Uruguay's only loss of the tournament to Argentina. As stated here earlier, Canada likely needs at least 3 victories in their 4 games to compete for an outright spot in the semi-finals and even still may have to succumb to the mercy of a tie-breaker at that. Many thought that the Puerto Rico game could have been the game that decides whether or not Canada has a shot at the semi-finals, and it still might, but the game could be virtually meaningless for Canada by that time if Canada doesn't take care of business against Uruguay and Mexico. Here are the quarter-final round standings prior to play beginning today with Canada's second round opponents in BOLD

Quarter-Final Standings
1. USA 3-0
2. Argentina 3-0
3. Brazil 2-1
4. Uruguay 2-1
5. Mexico 1-2
6. Canada 1-2
7. Puerto Rico 0-3
8. Venezuela 0-3

Canada's other games in this round:

Tuesday, Aug. 28th vs. Argentina 6 PM
Wednesday, Aug. 29th vs. Mexico 3:30 PM
Thursday, Aug. 30th vs. Puerto Rico 9:30 PM

Matt Sekeres' article in this morning's National Post Hoops draw hands Canada a nice break

Another Sekeres article on Argentina's Carlos Delfino, a key addition by the Toronto Raptors for this coming NBA season Argentina's Delfino has his hands full and another Delfino article by Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun Delfino Article in Toronto Sun

Finally, a solid piece by Mike Ganter in this morning's Toronto Sun on 6'2" Jermaine Anderson of Canada Canada's Rock

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