Christ the Redeemer looked over his city of Rio de Janeiro as the 2016 Olympic Games came to a close. As the basketball Gods watched as Team USA took the last medal in Brazil. Bringing the American’s total of gold to 46.
It was another great games in South America. From Gladitorial legends breaking, record consecutive golds in their fields (or pools), like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. To new icons setting their name and legacy in stone and gold like gymnast great Simone Biles.
As a matter of fact women ran the world in this Olympia. And the womens national basketball team set the tone for the U.S. as they blew out Spain 101-72 to take gold for the sixth consecutive time since their home turn in the 1996 Atlanta games. Before that it was all just merely netball. Now nothing but net, Team USA whitewashed all their games like thir home uniforms. 65, 40, 26, 30, 43, 46, 19 and 29 in the medal game (that was in the gym bag before the sweats even came off) was the point differential margins as WNBA legends and Olympic greats like Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi netted their third gold. Setting the podium for the likes of Brittney Griner, Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Sylvia Fowles and Breanna Stewart (matter of fact the whole roll call roster) to show the men they’re the real Dream Team.
Even more dominant than Simone, Usain or Mike in Olympic history, Angel McCoughtry is right when we wake up tomorrow these women better be on a damn Wheaties box.
After the U.S. beat the Silver Medal winning Spanish women and then the Spanish men took Bronce (Bronze) after a hero, power punch play by arguably the best international player of all-time (certainly the most underrated), Pau Gasol (holding up his injured, absent brother Marc’s jersey in beautiful, tribute celebration), it was down to the U.S. and Serbia for the last event of Rio’s games.
And they didn’t disappoint. Despite critics almost calling ‘Redeem’ on this twenty, sixteen team minus the King and the Chef. Sure the men didn’t win as handsomely as the women, but the rest of the world is just getting that much better. No matter the nationality…or gender, good basketball is good basketball. But the men still dominated and saved their best for last like Canadian Rick Fox’s first wife’s biggest hit. Serbia kept it close in the first quarter in what looked set to be a thriller…or even an upset as they lead. But then the second and the half that followed played out like the video game trend leads both U.S. squads have ran away with in these games over their still competitive opposition as it goes down to the pine of whose bench is fresher.
New Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant lead his band of brothers past Serbia with an incredible 2nd quarter of breakway rim rockers and NBA three’s as pure as bottled water as the Durantula bottle necked the opposition. With arms everywhere. On the floor, holding the flag, looking for gold in California and even touching on his past. Even Oklahoma City Thunder fans couldn’t deny it. You just had to love it. Many different U.S. players have lead the way for their country. From all-time Olympic contest and points leader and defacto veteran one Carmelo Anthony, to the all dunking, blocking and rebounding but no free throwing, centre of attention, DeAndre Jordan, who both wanted a medal round their neck just as much as a ring on their finger. But on this last night in Rio it was Kevin who held down a nation of millions down. He was the gasoline to this fire squad. And to think Jerry Colangelo broke his medal stand. His 30 points were the difference maker that lead the U.S. to a 30 point, 96-66 rout of the Serbs.
Which in the end made for 53 consecutive wins in international competition and 23 Olympic as Coach K hands his clean record in the games to Pop.
In his last Carnival the Duke coach even finally cracked a smile. Who knows he may have even broke out his best Manilow on the Copacobana for one last party on the beach.
As the sun goes down on Rio for the U.S. it’s nothing but Gold.
Next stop, Japan.
Here’s to Tokyo 2020.
Dominicana barks back defeats Canada in AmeriCup 2021 OT qualifying thriller
Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team (SMNT) shock-off a slow start, forced overtime before losing a controversial, yet thrilling 88-84 overtime road game to the Dominican Republic at the FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers in Santo Domingo.
Multiple ties and a total of twelve lead changes turned up the energy as both teams exchanged jabs in an exciting fourth-quarter. Trailing 75-73 with five seconds remaining in regulation — after the Dominican Republic failed to ice the game at the free-throw line, Canada appeared to have won the contest with a walk-off game-winning three-point shot by Conor Morgan that sent the entire team running off into the tunnel for a jubilant locker-room celebration.
The euphoria quickly ended and the celebration halted as the referees reviewed the shot and confirmed it as a two pointer — overturning a correct call that sent the game into overtime after a 75-75, 40-minute deadlock.
The referee, standing within three-feet of Morgan, and with clear 2020 vision lifted her hand to signal a three-point shot, but for some odd reason changed her call. Further video evidence shot by a fan sitting courtside clearly showed, and confirmed that the Canadian player was indeed behind the three-point line, albeit being extremely close.
Canada failed to match the Dominican Republic’s intensity early on and trailed 18-9 with 2:01 to play in a physical, foul-plagued, slow-moving first-quarter that finished with the home team ahead 22-16 after 10 minutes. Overall the Canadian’s shot just 3-for-12, turned the ball over six times but stayed within striking distance thanks to 9-of-12 free-throws.
The whistles kept on coming, the fouls started to pile-up and the pace turned to a snails’ race as both teams struggled to get anything going in the second-quarter. Canada’s Aaron Best acrobatic layup and thunderous inbounds alley-oop energized Team Canada. A late Dominican Republic triple maintained their six-point cushion with a 39-33 half-time lead in a evenly played 17-17 quarter.
The late arriving home crowd continued to fill the Palacio de los Desportes arena just in time to see the local team extend the lead to a game-high 10-points with the scoreboard showing 50-40 with 3:09 to play in the third-quarter.
Philip Scrubb (Richmond, BC) quickly shifted the momentum in Canada’s favour with a personal 9-0 run on back-to-back triples and an old-fashioned hoop plus the harm three-point play forcing a Dominican timeout. Canada extended the run to 12-0, contributed by poor-fouling shooting by the Dominican Republic to take 52-50 lead.
With the game hanging in the balance in the extra session Luis Montero drilled a clutch spot-up baseline three-pointer to give the Dominican Republic a 86-82 edge as they hung on for the thrilling overtime win.
Scrubb finished with a game-high 26 points on 6-of-13 field goals, 4-of-9 triples and 10-of-13 free-throws. The CD Estudiantes guard of the Spanish Liga ACD added 6 assists, adding 2 rebounds in a nearly 40 minutes of game action. Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, Ont.) hit some big shots and finished with 15 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and Aaron Best (Toronto, Ont.) was great with 15 points, 3 rebounds on 6-of-11 field-goals and 3-of-7 triples before fouling out.
Andrew Nicholson failed to find any consistency and fouled out in the three-quarter with 7 points and 6 rebounds. In total four Canadian players were disqualified as Canada was called for a total 32 team-fouls.
Eloy Vargas once again was the top player for the Dominican Republic with 16 points and 5 rebounds. The veteran 6’11 forward and former Kentucky Wildcat had and outstanding showing in the opening window of the 2021 FIBA Americas qualifiers. Rigoberto Mendoza added 12 points, 4 rebounds and Gelvis Salon stuffed the stat-sheet with 10 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds.
The Dominican connected on 31-of-72 (43.1%) field goals, including 9-of-27 (33%) from downtown and a sub-par 17-of-31 (54.8%) from the foul-line. Team Canada finished 25-of-65 (38.5%) from the floor, 11-of-32 (34.4%) from three-point land and slightly improved free-throw shooting 23/33 (69.7%).
Canada (1-1) will resume the FIBA 2021 AmeriCup qualifiers on November 26, 2020 with a game against Cuba (1-1).
Canada romps Dominican Republic in opener of FIBA AmeriCup 2021 qualifiers
Canada kicked-off the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup qualifiers with a lopsided 89-72 home win over the visiting Dominican Republic at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre (CRWC) in Oshawa, Ontario.
Trailing 40-35 at half-time Team Canada outscored the opposition 54-32 in the second-half to pull away for the double-digit 17-point win. Canada outscored the Dominican 30-18 in the third-quarter and further limited the Caribbean nation to only 14 points in the final 10 minutes.
Andrew Nicholson (Mississauga, Ont.) playing in his first game for Canada since 2017, paced four players in double-figures with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. A key figure on offense for Canada, the 6’10’ former NBA bigmen connected on 7-17 shots and threw-down several dunks — including a big time one-hander that got the standing room crowd to it’s feet.
Philip Scrubb (Richmond, BC) continued to prove his worth with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists on 3-of-7 three-pointers. Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, Ont.) sliced and diced his way to 12 points, a game-high 8 assists and 3 rebounds. Former Ryerson Rams’ guard Aaron Best (Scarborough, Ont.) rounded out the top scorers in the starting line-up with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists.
Trae Bell-Haynes (Toronto, Ont.) played well in his national team debut with 9 points, 4 assists and MiKyle McIntosh (Toronto, Ont.) 9 points, 5 assists helped Canada’s bench outscore the Dominican Republic 32-12. All 12 Canadian players got in the game and 11 scored at 3 points.
Canada, ranked 21st in the FIBA world rankings knocked down 32-of-61 (52.5%) field goals and hit on 13-of-34 triples. The foul-shooting on the other hand was pretty poor, with Team Canada findin the bottom of the net on just 12-of-21 (57.1%) attempts.
Canada’s defensive pressure forced the Dominican’s into 20 turnovers — leading to 29 points off of those mistakes for the Canadian’s.
No. 19 Dominican Republic, returned eight players from the 2019 World Cup. Victor Liz the team’s leading scorer in China had a game-high 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Eloy Vargas was next in line with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists and Angel Delgado finished with a near double-double with 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Unforeseen last minute technicalities forced the game to be moved from the Tribute Communities Centre to Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre — the beautiful new home of the Durham College Lords and University of Ontario Tech Ridgebacks.
The two teams will play again on Monday in the Dominican Republic. A road victory in hostile territory would put Team Canada in good shape to win Group C with upcoming games against No. 50 ranked Virgin Islands and No. 64 Cuba in the two remaining qualification windows.