While every game is important down in Caracas, Saturday’s contest takes on extra importance after Friday’s stunning set of results.
On Friday, upsets sprung up all over the tournament. Canada lost to Venezuela. Jamaica beat Argentina. And to close out the day, Puerto Rico suffered its first loss of the tournament at the hands of Jamaica.
The chaos left four teams tied for second place at the FIBA Americas Tournament with 3-2 records including Canada, as well as their Saturday opponents, the Dominican Republic.
“There’s going to be upsets every time, our goal is to get back on track, it’s not about winning one game, it’s about qualifying for the worlds and we’ve got to take care of business the next game,” Canadian coach Jay Triano said Friday.
Programming note: Watch Canada take on Dominican Republic at the FIBA Americas tournament live on Sportsnet 360 at 5:15 p.m. ET. | Full TV Schedule
These two teams met a couple of weeks ago at the Tuto Marchand Cup with the Dominicans coming out just ahead by a total of 74-68.
While the Canadians failed to come out on top in that game, the result can be thrown out the window as both teams were in exhibition mode in Puerto Rico.
After watching Andrew Nicholson continue to struggle with foul trouble, as he has throughout the tournament, it goes without saying that he needs to stop picking up silly fouls.
It has hurt his team throughout the tournament but it was deadly on Friday as the team struggled to find points against a physical group of Venezuelans. If he were collecting all of his fouls on his own end, it would be understandable but he continues to drop his shoulder on offence and he needs to understand the refs are watching him.
While the Canadians have four NBA players on their roster, the Dominicans have one of their own in Francisco Garcia.
The Houston Rockets forward is playing a similar role for his country as he has throughout his eight-year NBA career. Garcia is a glue guy who will do whatever it takes for his team to win, be it scoring, tough defence or working as a facilitator.
With Garcia working the wings, Jack Michael Martinez and James Feldeine will provide an inside-outside punch that Canada will need to be wary of.
It goes without saying that this game is vital for Canada. A win will go a long way towards a top-four finish while a loss could leave them on the outside looking in.