Canada gets crushed by Argentina

Argentina's Luis Scola goes to the basket under pressure from Canada's Joel Anthony....

Argentina's Luis Scola goes to the basket under pressure from Canada's Joel Anthony. (REUTERS/Andres Stapff)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:27 PM ET

One team was made up of grizzled veterans, has been playing together for years, is ranked No. 3 in the world and took home the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics.

The other was young, largely unfamiliar with each other and resides 20 spots behind in the rankings.

So, Monday’s result at the FIBA Americas Championship was not unexpected.

Unbeaten host Argentina showed its class in the fourth quarter, outscoring Canada 25-10 in the final frame on the way to a 79-53 win to open the second round of the competition.

Canada again put up a valiant fight — staying within 10 points of the powerhouse for much of the game despite another troubling shooting performance, but in the end, talent and experience won out.

Sublime San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili stuffed the stat-sheet, scoring 16 points, along with six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Rockets forward Luis Scola added 22 points and ex-Raptor Carlos Delfino chipped in 17, but it was Argentina’s defence that most impressed.

Canada, now 1-3, was held to just 28% shooting from the field and turned the ball over 22 times — 13 of those off of steals.

Already facing the top team in the tournament, Canada’s task got harder before the game when forward Levon Kendall was ruled out. Centre and defensive anchor Joel Anthony also was banged up heading in, but able to suit up.

Knowing the game against Puerto Rico was more winnable, head coach Leo Rautins spread the minutes through his entire roster.

“Knowing the strength of Argentina’s veteran roster, tonight’s focus was preparation for (Tuesday’s) game against Puerto Rico,” Rautins said.

The main bright spot on the day for Canada was a breakthrough game from Kamloops-born big man Kelly Olynyk. The 20-year-old Gonzaga sophomore was excellent in a 19-point, 12-rebound effort in his first start of the tournament.

Toronto’s Jevohn Shepherd added 12.

All is not lost for Canada though. A win on Tuesday against Puerto Rico, along with victories over Uruguay and Panama later in the week would put the team in a last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament next year.

Even a loss to the strong Puerto Rican side would not necessarily mean the end of the line for Canada.

The team could still finish fifth and earn the final spot at the last-chance event with wins over Uruguay and Panama and two losses by Venezuela in its final three games.

Elsewhere on the first day of the second round, the Dominican Republic powered past Panama; Puerto Rico joined the Dominicans at 3-1 and dropped Venezuela to 1-3 and Brazil also improved to 3-1 with a win over 1-3 Uruguay.


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