Rautins leads Canada in exhibition basketball win over China

The Canadian Press
8/11/2010 12:06:00 AM
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VANCOUVER -- Knowing he has the depth makes it easier for national basketball team coach Leo Rautins to play his youth.

Rautins didn't hesitate to go to his bench as Canada easily defeated China 86-62 Tuesday in an international exhibition game Tuesday.

"We go deep," Rautins said after the match, a warmup as Canada prepares for the FIBA world championships later this month. "We will continue to go deep to make sure people stay fresh.

"Everybody that I call on, there is a lot of trust. I'm not afraid to put different guys in at different times. The depth is a positive factor for us."

Guard Andy Rautins, the 23-year-old son of the coach, led Canada with 19 points, including four three-pointers. Jevohn Shepherd, a 24-year-old guard from Toronto, added 16 points while Joel Anthony, 28, who plays for the NBA Miami Heat, had eight points and led Canada with eight rebounds.

"These guys really push each other," said Rautins. "They trust each other.

"Some guys I can call on for limited minutes, other guys extended minutes. It allows me to keep players like Joel fresh and strong."

Anthony, the only Canadian player with NBA experience, liked what Canada, ranked 19th in the world rankings, showed against ninth-ranked China.

"It felt really good, they way we did it, just playing together," he said. "Defensively we played really well in terms of doing things we wanted to do by taking them out of their sets and being really aggressive and helping each other.

"Offensively, we were able to get some great looks. We weren't rushing things."

Canada led 41-16 at half-time. The Canadians dominated the boards, out-rebounding China 44-25.

Robert Donewald, the American-born coach of the Chinese team, said his side was simply over powered.

"They just took us out of everything we wanted to get into early," said Donewald. "I thought we were a deer in the headlights early.

"In the second half we picked it up and tried to pressure them a little more. We were just too far behind to make any type of move."

Vancouver native Levon Kendall, 26, a six-foot-nine forward, scored the game's first basket, then brought a cheer from the small crowd of 4,845 at Rogers Arena with a vicious dunk to make the score 10-5 early in the first quarter.

"Levon is the type of player that can knock down the shot, moves the ball fast," said coach Rautins.

Late in the first half Anthony, a six-foot-nine, 255-pound Montreal native, set up a screen that China's slender Liu Wei didn't see until the last minute. It was a like a bug hitting a car's windshield when Liu smacked into Anthony.

Liu regrouped to lead China with 19 points, including a pair of three-pointers.

Chinese supporters in the crowd also let out a large cheer when Zhang Zhaoxu took an inside pass, fought his way through a couple Canadian defenders, and slammed down a dunk.

Andy Rautins was taken in the second round of this year's draft by the New York Knicks after playing at Syracuse University.

His father said spending a lifetime watching his son gives him an advantage when coaching.

"I've seen Andy more than anybody us," said Leo Rautins. "I know his game intimately. In some ways it's an advantage. I can look at him and know when it's there. I can see when it's not going to be there maybe quicker than other players.

"Other than that, he's one of the boys. If he doesn't do his job, he's going to sit. If he does his job, he'll play."

Chinese forward Yi Jianlian said his team looked better in the second half.

"Our guys fell asleep in the first half," said Yi, who played for the New Jersey Nets last season but has been traded to the Washington Wizards. "In the second half we tried to pick it up.

"We played pretty good in the second half. We needed to play the whole game like that."

Yi finished with 15 points and five rebounds.

Wang Zhizhi, a seven-foot centre, was one of the first Chinese players ever drafted by an NBA team when he was selected by Dallas in 1999. He also played for the L.A. Clippers and Miami.

He scored no points and was held to just one rebound.

The game was Canada's first at home since 2008.

Next up Canada will play France Thursday and Friday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto as the team prepares for the FIBA world championships which begin Aug. 28 in Turkey.

At the world championships Canada will be in a pool with Spain, ranked No. 3 in the world, Lithuania (sixth), New Zealand (13), France (15) and Lebanon (24). The top four teams in each of the four, six-team pools advance to the playoffs.

Notes: Canada's team at the world championships will average 24.6 years of age. ... Kendall is the son of Simon Kendall, keyboardist for the Canadian ban Doug and the Slugs....Canada qualified for nine consecutive world championships before missing the 2006 tournament in Japan.

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