Friday, 28 August 2009

Canada 87, Virgin Islands 67

Once again showing the cohesiveness, energy and balance of a team that could make some noise at this tournament, Canada defeated U.S. Virgin Islands 87-67. Again, Canada defended very hard in the quarter court, generally took care of the ball, spaced the floor and shared the ball offensively, generally took good shots and limited second chances to comfortably defeat Virgin Islands, who fell apart midway through the second quarter after a playing in last night's late feature game against the host Puerto Ricans.

After an indifferent start, Canada received strong inside play from 6'9" Jesse Young and 6'10" Levon Kendall which keyed a 13-3 run to end the first quarter that built a 10 point lead at 24-14. Canada tweaked their defense from all out man-to-man to, after free throw makes, a passive 3/4 press dropping into a 2/3 zone. Designed to slow down the transition-happy US VI team and combined with an emphasis on converting after misses, the ploy almost completely eliminated any game-changing running opportunities for Canada's opponent.

Canada then grew the lead to 16 midway through the second quarter before hicupping a bit when a couple of questionable shots led to easy transition and second chances, part of a U.S. Virgin Islands 7-0 run cut the lead to single digits. But on the very next possession, Canada went back to their pressure "d", got a stop and then 6'1" Jermaine "Rock" Anderson, came off a solid Kyle Landry ball screen and dropped a three from the top of the bowl while getting fouled. The ensuing free throw completed the first part of a 11-2 run to end the half allowing Canada to go up 18 at 44-26. Included in the run was a long three well within the context of the offense by 6'5" Carl English who was generally much more under control today.

The game began to get chippy midway through the third quarter and later slowed to a crawl as a number of flagrant fouls were called however officials did a solid job in keeping emotions under control. 6'6" Olu Famutimi displayed his off-the-charts athletic ability with a couple of entertaining transition dunks as Canada maintained a 20 point lead for much of the second half.

Ex-Carleton Raven Aaron Doornekamp knocked down a three in the first quarter, part of Canada's first run that gave them the lead they never relinquished. Doornekamp also added a jumper and transition layup as Canada extended their lead to over 20 in the fourth quarter. He was also his usual self intelligently defending off the ball and not backing down from any physical play.

With arguably the two easier games out of the way, Canada now embarks on the tougher part of their schedule with games tomorrow (Saturday) against Uruguay (4 PM ET/Score Television) and then Sunday night against Puerto Rico (9 PM ET/Score Television). With the two early victories, Canada is virtually guaranteed a spot in the quarter-final round. However, both weekend games are likely to count in the second round standings (games against advancing opponents count in the second round standings). The top 4 finishers in the second round standings automatically qualify for Turkey 2010.

Currently in Group A, Puerto Rico is 2-0 pending tonight's matchup with Uruguay (1-0). Puerto Rico will have a day off prior to their encounter with Canada on Sunday while Uruguay will have to come back again tomorrow afternoon to face the Canadians after tonight's tough test against the hosts. In Group B, Brazil, who have emerged into the tournament favorites, especially after this afternoon's nine point win against Argentina, lead at 3-0 while Dominican Republic and Venezuela are both 1-1. Argy is 0-2 with losses to Venezuela and Brazil. Currently it looks like the winner of the Argentina/Panama affair should decide the 4th team out of Group B to move on.


Anonymous said...

Great offort, good D. Where is Ryan Bell? He is listed on the box as the 12th man with zero minutes played. Obviously these first games are ones in which everyone should play, so should I assume he is hurt??

John said...

Oh dear! This whole FIBA Americas has gone totally crazy with Venezueala losing to Panama and my team Argentina going 0-2 already after losing to Venezuela and Brazil (please check out my match report).

It's crunch time when they take on Panama in their next game which is a must win. Or else it's gooodbye to soon for them. I'm very concern about this. Though we improved and played better against Brazil, the presents of Barbosa and Verajao was just too much. Scola is doing a great job but it is all too clear that he needs the rest of the team to step up to the plate.

This is just insane!!!

Should we fail to qualify on merit from this tournament, I think we could still go to Turkey as one of the wildcard berth based on their strong FIBA world ranking.