FIBA Americas: Canada drops Brazil in semifinal, can win Olympic berth Sunday

Semifinal vs. Brazil – Saturday, August 15

Facing their most difficult opponent and tournament elimination, Canada overcame Brazil 83-66 to keep hopes alive for Olympic qualification from the FIBA Americas final.

Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe contests a ball during the semifinal.

Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe contests a ball during the semifinal.

This week it’s been anyone’s guess who would lead Canada in points, there’s so much depth. Tonight it was Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe scoring 18 points off the bench and adding five rebounds. Starter Miranda Ayim scored 11 points for Canada, Iziane Castro Marques managed 15 points to lead the Brazilians.

Brazil led briefly in the first quarter at three separate points, amounting to a total of 1:09 on the clock. Canada’s scoring power would allow them to take back the lead multiple times, and eventually stay ahead. At the end of the first quarter the home team’s lead was five points, at half it was six (45-39).

In the second half the Canadians dialed up their command, pushing the lead into double-digits and then the teens. The offensive pressure would frustrate the Rio 2016 hosts and their coach Luiz Zanon, who left the court a few minutes into the second half, ejected by two technical fouls.

Miranda Ayim scored 11 points and had four rebounds.

Miranda Ayim scored 11 points and had four rebounds.

The Canadians entered the semifinal 4-0 after the preliminary round and had at least four players score double-digit points in each of those games. They outscored opponents 390 to 172 in group play.

The victory sets up a Sunday final against Cuba at 8 pm ET, a team Canada beat (more below) 92-43 in their final group game.

The winner earns the one available spot for next year’s Olympics. The loser will have to play another qualifying tournament in 2016.

Game four vs. Cuba – Thursday, August 13

Cuba was supposed to be Canada’s biggest challenger and instead the home team won 92-43 to finish the FIBA Americas preliminary round unbeaten.

It was a contest for the top of Group A and by winning Canada is now assured the loser of Argentina versus Brazil, the final game on Thursday night.

Miah-Marie Langlois stops up during preliminary round action versus Cuba.

Miah-Marie Langlois stops up during preliminary round action versus Cuba. Photo: FIBA

Kia Nurse scored 14 points for Canada while Natalie Achonwa and Miranda Ayim each added 12. Again, it was scoring by committee as five Canadians registered double-digit points. Ayim also pulled down seven rebounds.

Team Canada’s FIBA Americas roster

In the preliminary round Canada was dominant by recording a 4-and-0 record, exceeding 90 points in every game, and outscoring their opponents 390 to 172.

Tamara Tatham has 11 points in the game, one of five Canadians with double-digits.

Tamara Tatham has 11 points in the game, one of five Canadians with double-digits. Photo: FIBA

There is no tournament action on Friday, with both semifinals scheduled for Saturday. Canada will play BRA or ARG at 5:30 pm ET. The final is on Sunday.

Canada can earn their second consecutive Olympic berth by winning the tournament, or making a final against Brazil. The Olympic hosts were given a spot by FIBA, so any finalist with them would qualify regardless of the result.

The Canadian men are preparing for their version of this tournament, commencing August 31st. Their training camp roster was announced Monday including 10 NBA players: Anthony Bennett (Minnesota Timberwolves), Sim Bhullar (Sacramento Kings), Melvin Ejim (Orlando Magic), Cory Joseph (Toronto Raptors), Andrew Nicholson (Orlando Magic), Kelly Olynyk (Boston Celtics), Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks), Robert Sacre (Los Angeles Lakers), Nik Stauskas (Philadelphia 76ers), Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves). Six other players were invited including Pan Am standout and Kentucky-bound Jamal Murray.

Game three vs. Dominican Republic – Tuesday, August 11

The Canadians did not look tired playing a third-straight night, as they stomped the Dominican Republic 111-36 to gain a 3-0 record at FIBA Americas.

Starter Miah-Marie Langlois had seven assists and nine points in the game.

Starter Miah-Marie Langlois had seven assists and nine points in the game. (Photo: FIBA)

Six players in the red and white scored in the double-digits, Miranda Ayim won the shootout by putting up 15. Nirra Fields was a bucket behind at 13. Captain Kim Gaucher led with seven rebounds. The Dominicans had one stalwart as Genesis Evangelista scored 15 points.

Miranda Ayim (Photo: FIBA)

Miranda Ayim (Photo: FIBA)

Team Canada have laid down 90+ points in every game and this is the first time they’ve crested the 100-point mark since beating Venezuela 101-38 during their victorious home Pan Am tournament.

Full #TeamCanada roster

In truth, the first three games were the easy part for Canada, and they now have a day off before facing the more threatening Cubans on Thursday. Cuba are 2-0 after dropping Puerto Rico earlier today, and will play their third preliminary game on Wednesday against the Chileans.

On the other side, Argentina improved to 2-0 by beating the Virgin Islands today, to lead Group B. Only the top-two teams from each group advance to Saturday semifinals.

Canada would qualify for their second consecutive Olympic tournament should they win FIBA Americas on Sunday, unless Brazil also makes the final. As the host, Brazil were granted an Olympic spot earlier this week, therefore any finalist with them would also be Rio bound. 

Watch Canada at FIBA Americas on TSN

Sun, Aug. 9 vs. Puerto Rico – 94-57 W
Mon, Aug. 10 vs. Chile – 93-36 W
Tue, Aug. 11 vs. Dominican Republic – 111-36 W
Wed, Aug. 12 vs. Cuba- 8:30 pm ET / 5:30 pm PT (TSN 2)

Game two vs. Chile – Monday, August 10

Canada dominated Chile 93-36 and are now 2-0 at FIBA Americas in Edmonton.

It was a brutally convincing result over the South Americans, tied only at tip-off as the white-adorned Canadians glided the ball around easily. Their pace on offence was overwhelming, and Chile looked increasingly unthreatening especially after losing captain Ziomara Morrison 46-seconds into the game.

Canada defended well, holding the Chileans to only 12 field goals.

Canada defended well, holding the Chileans to only 12 field goals.

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Starters Kia Nurse and Tamara Tatham scored 14 points, Natalie Achonwa scored the same off the bench while adding two blocks and three steals. Katherine Plouffe led the way with eight rebounds.

All of Canada’s early efforts build up to meeting Cuba on Thursday, their most daunting Group A opponent and the team they’ll close the preliminary round against. Cuba debuts against the Dominican Republic as the late game today. It will be Canada’s turn to play the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, at 8:25 pm ET.

Lisa Thomaidis guides her players on Monday.

Lisa Thomaidis guides her players on Monday. (Photo: FIBA)

It appears things are going to plan for head coach Lisa Thomaidis, who last week said her team will ‘have to take care of business early on’. So far so good. The game against Cuba will likely decide who wins the group. Only the top two teams move on to a semifinal. The winner of the tournament qualifies for next summer’s Olympic Games.

Game one vs. Puerto Rico – Sunday, August 9

Job one complete for Canada as they knock off Puerto Rico 94-57 to open the FIBA Americas Women’s Championship in Edmonton.

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Canada opened FIBA Americas against Puerto Rico on Sunday.

Canada opened FIBA Americas against Puerto Rico on Sunday. (Photo: FIBA)

The 40-minute game went smoothly for the home team as they showed scoring depth, with every player whether starter or bench, contributing points. Captain Kim Gaucher and Miah-Marie Langlois had 11 points each, both were perfect on three-pointers and Langlois added a team-leading eight rebounds. Lizanne Murphy added 11 points from the bench.

Lizanne Murphy (Photo: FIBA)

Lizanne Murphy (Photo: FIBA)

Canada was 63% from beyond the arc, hitting 12 of 19 tries.

The Puerto Ricans tagged along in the first quarter, keeping it within eight at 30-22. It was during the second where the Canadians widened the gap, outscoring Puerto Rico 26-7 for a 56-29 first-half lead. From there, head coach Lisa Thomaidis’ squad defended well, forcing the Puerto Ricans to try individual efforts, resulting in an overall 37% field-goal percentage.

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Canada had 50 boards to their opponent’s 16.

The Canadians will play their second of three games in three nights, meeting Chile on Monday at 8:25 pm ET.

Earlier in the day FIBA announced Brazil’s basketball teams (M/W) would be awarded host spots at Rio 2016. Brazil is here at this tournament, in Group B, with the overall winner also assured a Rio berth.