Friday, 28 August 2009

Canada 95, Mexico 50

Relative to recent vintage Canadian squads, there were several fresh and optimistic aspects of the team's dominant victory yesterday over a gassed Mexican squad and at least one issue that hasn't changed much. One thing is for certain, with a dominant effort in which they made 18 3's, shooting greater than 50% from beyond the arc and building leads as large 53 points, the Canadians, for one day at least, did much to temper the pre-tournament whispers that the group would be hard pressed to compete for a Top 4 finish and the automatic berth to the 2010 World Championships in Turkey.

The first thing that jumps out is how hard this group defends as a team. Outside of the initial five or so possessions when Canada was confused on a couple of switch outs and was late helping on Mexico's 2/3 high sets, the group did a very good job stopping the ball and dealing with the Mexican sets, which were well run at least when it was still somewhat of a game in the first half. Unlike prior teams in prior years, all 5 guys on the floor for the most part defended within the system with some jam and if it continues, this should keep the Canadians in most games of this tournament. Canada also dominated on the glass as it was "one and done" on most defensive possessions and Canadian athletes did their usual solid job attacking the "o" glass.

Offensively, this group ran their offense with more precision, spaced the floor and shared the ball as well as any Canadian team in the last three or so summers. The sets were being run much more crisply and when help was drawn, generally the ball moved quickly and ended up in the hands of an open shooter after 4 or more touches. Outside of a few occasions, the ball wasn't pounded into the floor - it moved among everyone. In transition, the ball was headmaned and the balanced scoring (all 10 Canadians who played significant minutes scored) indicated that the group isn't concerned with who scores. And Canada made shots which always helps.

This game was over early as Canada led for good after 6'6" Olu Famutimi hammered home a put-back to provide a 7-5 lead, which started a 7-0 run and Canada built a 17 point lead after the first quarter, punctuated by a 70' buzzer-beating heave by back up point guard Tyler Kepkay. The Canadians then really clamped down defensively in the second quarter, holding the wilting Mexicans, who had an emotionally draining opening-night loss to Puerto Rico the night before in which they led for three quarters, to only 8 second quarter points to lead by 28 at half. Then Canada's top two names 6'10" Joel Anthony and 6'5" Carl English, who was the one Canadian who had a wreched first half, keyed an 18-3 third quarter run, including the first 9 points of the quarter and the route, as they say, was on.

6'4" Andy Rautins was on fire from downtown, finishing with 6 3's for his game-high 18 points. Carleton alumnus Aaron Doornekamp, playing on the second unit of five for Canada, had extensive minutes and knocked down a late 3 but more noteably was strong defending off the ball and used his passing skills to find Rautins open twice in transition in the second quarter when it was still somewhat of a game.

It may be knit-picking however for the fleeting moments when it was still a game yesterday, there were some possessions that invoked memories of Canadian teams of the recent past, usually when English was entrusted in the decision making. Shot selection has generally been an issue with English, who started the game about 1 for 7 with at least 2 turnovers, and while he was part of several excellent ball movement sequences yesterday, he did revert to dribbling into unfavorable situations as well as taking a number of ill-advised 3's and pull ups off the dribble. The shots English tried in the first half that weren't going in, did go in the third quarter as he was on fire with 14 of his 17 points including 4 3's in that frame. And it appears English is really trying to lead on the floor and encourage when sitting. However, reverting back to situations where shot selection is questionable and decision-making with the ball off the dribble into traffic leads to turnovers show that there are still issues to improve on.

Canada generally used two groups of five, although they didn't sub 5 for 5, as coach Leo Rautins started Jermaine Anderson, English, Anthony, Famutimi and Jermaine Bucknor, who had a strong start making shots. The second unit consisted of veteran captain Jesse Young, who was solid again especially on the defensive glass, Kepkay, Levon Kendall, Rautins and Doornekamp. Young Kyle Landry got some time at the end as well.

Anthony was probably the best Canadian at both ends of the floor, defending, rebounding and blocking shots and then had a tremendous offensive third quarter before shutting it down in the blow out.

Canada gets the U.S. Virgin Islands today and with a victory will virtually clinch already a spot in the second round. Game time on the SCORE is 4 PM with a 10 PM replay.


Canadian Press article on yesterday's win

Easy pickings: Canada opens FIBA Americas by routing Mexico


Andy Rautins scored 18 points and Carl English added 17 of his own as Canada trounced Mexico 95-40 in its opening game yesterday at the FIBA Americas basketball tournament.

The Canadians broke away early and were never seriously threatened against Mexico, which fell 81-66 to the host Puerto Ricans in its tournament opener Wednesday night. Canada led by 28 points after the first half and cruised from there as it looks to improve on its fifth-place finish at the previous FIBA Americas competition.

Canada coach Leo Rautins said his team wanted to jump on the tired Mexicans early.

"We're an energy team," Rautins said in a conference call. "We have to play a high-energy game in any situation, but especially in an environment like this where Mexico has to play the late game the night before.

"It's critical to come out and take advantage of whatever scheduling quirks there are and I thought our guys did a great job coming out ready to play."

Five Canadians wound up in double figures in scoring, including Jermaine Bucknor (11), Joel Anthony (11) and Olu Famutimi (10). Tyler Kepkay added eight points in the victory.

Andy Rautins -- who scored all 18 of his points from beyond the arc -- said a key to the game was rebounding, which Canada dominated 47-30.

"Our main goal was to keep them off the glass and rebound because that's how we won against them last time," said the younger Rautins, who plays at Syracuse University.

Noe Alonso Chavez led the way with 10 points for Mexico.

The Canadians dominated at both ends of the court, shooting 58% (19-for-33) from three-point range and 49% overall, while limiting Mexico to 22% shooting (13-for-60).

Canada's next Group A qualifying round game is today against the U.S. Virgin Islands.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So Canada defends ferociously as a team, shoots the lights out from the arc and pummels a hapless opponent without some ways Dave Smart is there even tough he isn't there, if you know what I mean.