Canada trounces Mexico in opener at FIBA tournament

The Canadian Press
8/27/2009 8:19:32 PM
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Andy Rautins scored 18 points and Carl English added 17 of his own as Canada trounced Mexico 95-40 in its opening game Thursday at the FIBA Americas basketball tournament.

The Canadians broke away early and were never seriously threatened against Mexico, which fell 81-66 to the host Puerto Ricans in its tournament opener Wednesday night. Canada led by 28 points after the first half and cruised from there as it looks to improve on its fifth-place finish at the previous FIBA Americas competition.

Canada coach Leo Rautins said his team wanted to jump on the tired Mexicans early.

"We're and energy team," Rautins said in a conference call. "We have to play a high-energy game in any situation, but especially in an environment like this where Mexico has to play the late game night before.

"It's critical to come out and take advantage of whatever scheduling quirks there are and I thought our guys did a great job coming out ready to play."

Five Canadians wound up in double figures in scoring, including Jermaine Bucknor (11), Joel Anthony (11) and Olu Famutimi (10). Tyler Kepkay added eight points in the victory.

Andy Rautins -- who scored all of 18 of his points from beyond the arc -- said a key to the game was rebounding, which Canada dominated 47-30.

"Our main goal was to keep them off the glass and rebound because that's how we won against them last time," said the younger Rautins, who plays at Syracuse University.

"We outrebounded them by 30 last time and that was one of our main goals this game."

Noe Alonso Chavez led the way with 10 points for Mexico (0-2).

The Canadians dominated at both ends of the court, shooting 58 per cent (19-for-33) from three-point range and 49 per cent overall, while limiting Mexico to just 22 per cent shooting (13-for-60).

"Our number one priority going into the game was taking their best player, Romel Beck, out of the game. He only had three points on 1-of-9 shooting," said Leo Rautins.

"To hold any team at this level to 40 points -- whether they're tired or not -- it's a pretty good job. I was very impressed our guys in terms of the effort there."

Famutimi had five points during Canada's early 9-0 run. He added a three-pointer later in the quarter to put the Canadians up 21-12, and Rautins followed with a three to extend the lead to 12 points.

Kepkay buried a three from beyond mid-court at the buzzer to cap a 12-1 run as Canada enjoyed a 30-13 advantage after one.

The lead grew to 24 points on back-to-back Rautins three-pointers midway through the second, and Bucknor followed with a defensive statement later in the quarter, scampering back to stuff a Mexican shooter on a wide-open layup attempt.

Canada led 49-21 at the half, limiting Mexico to just eight second-quarter points. Nine different Canadians had a basket through the opening two quarters.

The lead ballooned to 40 midway through the third, and Canada extended its advantage to 78-33 by the end of the quarter. The Canadians spent most of the fourth quarter killing the clock.

Canada's next Group A qualifying round game is Friday against the U.S. Virgin Islands, which lost to Puerto Rico 85-74 in Thursday's late game.

Puerto Rico improves to 2-0, while the U.S. Virgin Islands drops to 0-2.

"A lot of people may not know much about (the U.S. Virgin Islands) but they're extremely athletic," said Leo Rautins.

"The have size, quickness, they're very strong, they're physical. So it's important we get on them early, much like we did against Mexico and really let them feel us."

Action in Group B on Thursday saw the Dominican Republic improve to 1-1 with a 100-87 victory over Panama (0-1).

In the other game, Brazil downed Venezuela 87-67. Brazil sits at 2-0, while Venezuela dropped to 1-1.

Olu Famutimi (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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