Thursday, 3 September 2009

Doug Smith's Canada Basketball article in Toronto Star

FIBA AMERICAS: Canada bounced again at hoops qualifier World berth unlikely after fourth straight loss

It's going to take an alarming change of fortune and some help from other countries for Canada to have any shot at qualifying for next year's world basketball championships.

Unable to contain Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa, who did pretty much whatever he wanted whenever he wanted, Canada suffered a 68-59 loss to Brazil at the FIBA Americas qualification tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico yesterday afternoon, another setback in its bid to rejoin the world elite of the sport.

Barbosa finished with a tournament-high 31 points for Brazil (5-0) as Canada fell to 1-4 in the quarter-final round of the 10-country tournament. It was Canada's fourth straight loss.

And it now means Canada has to beat Panama today and the Dominican Republic tomorrow – as well as get favourable results in other games involving the Dominican Republic and Uruguay just to get into a tie-breaker situation for the fourth and final spot available for the 2010 worlds in Turkey.

"That's not out of the question, we're approaching it like if we take care of our side of things, we've got a chance to get there," Canada's Aaron Doornekamp said in a conference call.

"We just have to deal with our situation, win both our games."

Canada hasn't competed at a significant senior international event since a 13th place finish at the 2002 worlds, having failed to qualify for both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics or the 2006 world championships.

Barbosa, who went into the game averaging 18.4 points per game, blitzed Canada from all over the court.

He hit eight of 10 field goals, three of six three-pointers and six of seven free throws.

STANDINGS (with games remaining in brackets for teams still in contention):

1. Puerto Rico 5/0
2. Brazil 5/0
3. Argentina 4/1
4. Dominican Republic 2/3 (Mexico, Canada)
5. Uruguay 2/3 (Brazil, Argentina)
6. Canada 1/4 (Panama, Dominican Republic)
7. Panama 1/4 (Canada, Mexico)
8. Mexico 0/5

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