Friday, September 04, 2009

'09 FIBA Americas: Canada vs. Dominican Republic For Last Ticket To Turkey

Canada vs. Dominican Republic (6:30 est) for the last '10 Worlds qualifying spot from the Americas Zone. This is the only game that matters that's left on the FIBA Americas schedule. The semifinals & finals are anti-climatic with Brazil, Argentina, & Puerto Rico having locked up 3 of the 4 qualifying spots for Turkey.

Dom. Republic wins, they're in. If Canada wins,...well, they're not quite in. If Uruguay loses to Argentina, Canada just has to win the game. If Uruguay beats Argentina, Canada would have to win by 5 points to secure the pt. differential tiebreaker.

Francisco Garcia has a injured finger that forced him out of Thursday's game vs. Mexico, and he might have to sit this game out. Obviously not good times for Dom. Rep., especially with the way Garcia has been stroking the ball behind the arc. Garcia's absence could also be felt on the defensive end--he would check Canada's best offensive option, Carl English.

The Dominicans could easily be undefeated, but they've wilted down the stretch in each of their three losses. Think this has to do with their lack of leadership. Luis Flores has been quietly effective in the tourney, but he's a 2-guard at his core. Just a lack of organization and shoddy shot selection sometimes with this Dominican team.

Al Horford has been Dom. Republic's best all-around player game-in, game-out. Al's been hitting jumpers, hitting hooks, tearing up the off. glass, and providing timely help on the defensive backline. Foul trouble has upset Charlie Villanueva's rhythm, but he has still been effective in spurts.

Canada has fattened up on the dregs of this tourney, but has struggled when faced with tougher competition. Canada has built up a bloated point differential thanks to pounding Mexico, Virgin Islands, & Panama. They have generally shot the perimeter jumpers well in their victories.

The newly-installed motion offense looked promising early on, but it couldn't cover Canada's lack of a premier playmaker for long. When Canada ran into the superior teams, the offense looked as ragged as it had the last few years. Carl English has done some nice things in the tourney, but when he's your team's #1 option, your team is in trouble. No one needs to be double-teamed on Canada.

Although the offense has been inconsistent, the Canadian defense has been solid thru-out the tourney. Canada's defense & rebounding has been its strength the last few years. Actually thought they defended all right in their recent losses vs. Argentina & Brazil--held both teams under 70 pts. Canada contained Scola, but got hurt by 3pters. Canada played Brazil tough, but just could not stop Barbosa.

The Canadians do a nice job helping each other and have a tough, physical interior rotation of Joel Anthony, Levon Kendall, & Jesse Young. These three guys are nice defensive options to go opposite Horford, Villanueva, & JM Martinez. Canada has continued to rebound well, especially on the defensive end because Dom. Rep. have been killing the offensive glass.

The refs could be a factor in this game, like it or not. Horford & Villanueva have had a hard time adjusting to FIBA refs and have constantly dealt with foul trouble. The Canadians are a physical bunch and have a high foul rate.

I would say the Dominicans are a slight fave in this game, but Canada matches up fairly well. Canada's bigs defend well, so they might be able to contain Al & Charlie. Canada has a nice fleet of shooters that can get hot, particularly Rautins & English. Dom. Rep. could be flustered by Canada's offensive movement, the Dominicans have had instances of miscommunication on defense with screens.

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