Friday, 17 August 2007

Canada over Puerto Rico Notes

In the aftermath of Canada's impressive comeback win over Puerto Rico, a team with several NBA players playing at home in front of their usually-rabid fans that only 3 years ago defeated the USA at the Olympics by over 20, it may be helpful to review the contributions from Canada's roster. Canada played 11 men (only 6'8" Rans Brempong didn't see any action for Canada), as the coaching staff substituted freely almost from the beginning but stuck to an 8 man rotation until late in the second quarter. Canada starterd 6'1" Jermaine Anderson, 6'10" Sam Dalembert, 6'5" Carl English, 6'5" Olu Famutimi and 6'7" Jesse Young against a Puerto Rican lineup that included 6'2" Carlos Arroyo (Orlando), 7'3" Peter John Ramos and 3 veterans of international play in 6'7" Carmelo Lee (Long Beach State), 6'8" Angelo Reyes (from the Bronx, NYC) and 6'2" Elias Ayuso (USC plus a cup of coffee with Denver Nuggets). Puerto Rico was playing their first game after the recent announcement that 6'11" Daniel Santiago, probably the best Puerto Rican big man ever, was retiring from international play. First guys off the bench for Canada were 6'5" Denham Brown, 6'10" Levon Kendall and 6'8" Juan Mendez, who picked up 2 quick fouls and did not play again. This was Dalembert's very first game for Canada and some anxiety was on display as Dalembert opened the game by turning the ball over 4 times in the first 5 minutes. English also started slowly, going 0 for 3 with 3 turnovers before picking up his second foul, an unsportsmanlike foul on an "and one" late in the first quarter. He finished with 2 points on 1-6 shooting. Famutimi had a solid start with 4 early points and finished with 6 points. Brown was the first wing off the bench and had 2 points, going 0-3 from the floor in 12 minutes. 6'10" Vlad Kuljanin, the 11th man to play for Canada last night, had a pair of key baskets when Dalembert was on the bench with fouls in the third quarter and was instrumental in keeping the game within reach for Canada. The most unexpected contributions came when Canada decided to play their 9th and 10th guys late in the second quarter as 6'5" veteran Dave Thomas of Brampton, who was the 9th guy off the bench and ended up playing 30 minutes and grabbing 11 boards, and 6'5" Andy Rautins, the 10th guy to get time for Canada who only got on the floor briefly toward the end of the second quarter, were part of Canada's comeback late in the game and ended up playing virtually the entire way after about 8 minutes remained in the game. Clearly the coaching staff wanted to run with who got them back in the game and this instance it clearly worked. But this is international basketball and, playing every day, expect heroes and goats to appear and disappear almost daily. Canada's international record under Leo Rautins-coached teams now stands at 8-18, including 2-4 this summer, and with games against touted South American teams Argentina and Brazil looming, Canada will have to continue to gel as a group and get contributions from their entire roster. Canada (1-0) faces Argentina (1-0) tonight at 6 PM.

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