Rautins scores 19 as Canada dominates France again

The Canadian Press

8/13/2010 9:30:53 PM

TORONTO -- The wins are nice, but the goal for Canada is simple -- getting ready for the FIBA world championships.

Andy Rautins scored 19 points as the Canadians beat France again in an international exhibition game Friday, this time 85-63.

"This is training camp," said Canada head coach Leo Rautins, whose team also topped the French 69-58 a night earlier. "We could win every one of our games, it really doesn't matter. Our goal is to get better every game. And practice, shoot-around and games, they're all practice."

Jevohn Shepherd added 12 points and Denham Brown chipped in with 10 as Canada dominated before a crowd of 2,225 at Air Canada Centre.

Andy Rautins left the game after knocking knees with another player in the third quarter but the guard said it was not serious.

Florent Pietrus led France with 16 points and Nicolas Batum added 11. It was the third and final game played by the Canadian team in the Jack Donohue International Classic, all wins, as preparation for the world championships in Turkey that run from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12.

Canada was the more cohesive and aggressive team again Friday, leading 24-12 after the first quarter. Canada led 47-25 at the half on the strength of 14 points from Rautins. Batum had nine first-half points for France, which shot just 7-for-21.

"We didn't play our game," Batum said. "We just relaxed a little bit and they played hard for 40 minutes that's why we lost. We have to use this game to rebound."

The only time the Canadian team let up was in a third quarter where France outscored them 20-13. But Canada regained control in the fourth for a comfortable win.

Still, Leo Rautins -- whose team came out flat in the third quarter of Tuesday's 86-62 win over China in Vancouver -- wasn't pleased with Canada's play after halftime.

"The third quarter was a little frustrating," he said. "We kind of had the same thing against China, the third quarter we came out a little lax. But they found a way to get out of it that's the key."

After all, the coach said, it's all practice until the big competition begins.

"That was just a bad segment of practice that we have to clean up," he said.

Canada has worked more on offence than defence, but the play without the ball has been a strong point this week.

"I've been very happy with our defence," said Rautins. "I think we can get better, we're still making mistakes, the first five days together we didn't talk much about defence. I still think our defence is our staple and that's something we've done very well over the years but we have to continue our work on offence."

France was 18-for-46 shooting (39.1 per cent) from the field, while Canada shot 29-for-55 (52.7 per cent).

"I think we showed it doesn't matter who's on the floor, guys come to play," Rautins said. "We got some good performances from guys, even in limited minutes."

France and Canada are in the same group for the worlds and will meet again in Turkey.

"I think obviously (France is) going to be a lot better the next time we play them," Rautins said. "They're like us actually, they've got some young players on that team and the more time they're together, I think they're going to come together. They're very athletic, they can create problems for you."

Notes: Canadian guard Jermaine Anderson missed Friday's game with a leg injury, which also prevented him from playing the other two games this week. ... France's forward-guard Batum missed Thursday's game because of illness but was in the starting line-up Friday. ... The Canadian team plays in the Acropolis Eurobank International Tournament in Athens from Aug. 17-19.