The two top teams heading into the FIBA Americas tournament were Argentina and Canada, both in Group B. In Group A, Mexico avoided the top teams in the preliminary round to go undefeated, but the easy ride is over for the host nation and they have to face Canada tonight and Argentina on Wednesday to determine seeding for the semi-finals on Friday. With a win over Mexico, Canada will secure their spot in the semis.
The worst Canada can finish if they lose to Mexico today and the Dominican Republic tomorrow is in a three-way tied for third with Dominican and Venezuela. Although that would require the Dominican to defeat Argentina today as well, so that should be put in the remote possibility category. Canada will get their shot at a medal. All that remains is determining what seed they can earn.
In the second round of this tournament, the teams that advanced from Group play cross over to play the teams from the other group and where Canada has demolished Group A teams in their first two second round games, Panama 103-66 and then Uruguay 109-82, Mexico has struggled against Group B.
On Sunday Mexico barely got by Puerto Rico 92-86, a team Canada defeated by 20 points, 112-92 in Group play. Then on Monday, Mexico escaped defeat in the dying seconds 73-70 versus Venezuela as described by FIBA. Another team Canada defeated by 20 points, 82-62.
Mexico closed the day by securing a spot in the semifinals after winning, 73-70, in a game that they were losing for 39 minutes.
Venezuela gave a brilliant fight showing their structure on both sides of the court, however four points from Jorge Gutierrez in the last 9 seconds of the match sealed the win for the hosts.
As head coach Jay Triano and starting point guard Cory Joseph will be sure to remind their teammates, in 2013 Canada was but a win away from guaranteeing themselves a spot at the 2014 World Cup and lost three-in-a-row to see it slip away. Canada doesn’t want to risk a tie-breaker to get into the semis or even a low seed. This time there is a spot in Rio at the 2016 Olympics available and they don’t want to see that opportunity slip through their fingers.
Note: Argentina has defeated Dominican Republic 92-84 today, this guarantees Canada can finish no lower than 4th.