Saturday, 29 August 2009

Uruguay Preview

For the third consecutive game, Canada has the luxury of playing a team that played the night prior in the 9 PM feature game against the home Puerto Rican side. In all three instances, Puerto Rico prevailed and in the first two cases, arguably both Mexico and U.S. Virgin Islands came out with less than their best efforts. Last night, the Puerto Ricans, led by NBA veteran Carlos Arroyo, used a 23-11 run in the third quarter to break up a tight 2 point game at half to win comfortably. Uruguay must bounce back this afternoon now against Canada in a game that has definite medal round/qualifying implications because both teams are likely to advance and this game with therefore count in the standings going forward.

The apparent benefit of the scheduling is by no means a slight to Canada as our team can only play the games as they are put in front of them and in both cases Canada dominated the first two games, the results of which were never in any serious doubt by the end of the first quarter.

In Uruguay, Canada meets a higher quality opponent with a legitimate big in 6'10" Esteban Batista, who had 19 points (8-16 shooting) in 33 minutes in last night's loss to Puerto Rico. As well, 6'6" forward Mauricio Aguiar can play although the Puerto Ricans held him to just 3-12 from the floor last night. As well, 6'1" guard Leandro Garcia Morales , another mainstay in the Uruguaian rotation, finished with just 5 points by shooting 1-11 from the field. 4-23 overall and 1-10 from 3 from your two most important perimeter players just isn't going to get it done, no matter how good your big guy is as Batista, who played a couple of seasons in the NBA earlier this decade, is a very good international big man. Expect the Joel Anthony/Batista matchup to be important and Joel should be ready after getting much of yesterday off, keyed by him picking up two early fouls.

Canada has done a very good job defending the ball in most cases and with helping and rotating when guys do get beat. Further, Canada, led by Anthony, Jesse Young and Levon Kendall primarily, have done an excellent job limiting second chances. Offensively, there still are some signs that guys are drifting away from the mantras of sharing the ball, spacing, keeping the ball moving and finding the best shot no matter who takes it but it is much, much better than the past 3 seasons. Taking care of the ball and staying within the confines of the offensive philosophy consistently will be key as the competition gets better and better. It should be fun and for the first time since Steve Nash played for Canada, there is a legitimate excitement around this team, even if it may be a bit premature.

Also, check out Coach Roy Rana's blog to which an entry was made yesterday. Coach Rana is providing a unique perspective for fans.

Game begins in about 3 hours at 4 PM ET on the SCORE and is replayed at 7 PM ET on Raptors TV.

No comments: