Canada blows chance at Olympic berth

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Canadian Men’s National Team had won its previous seven games by an average of 26.3 points and by no less than 17. Statistically, it had been the best team at the FIBA Americas tournament by a wide margin.

But with an Olympic bid on the line in the semifinals on Friday, Canada blew it.

Thanks to a last-second foul call on a rebound, Venezuela came back from a seven-point deficit with 3:00 to go to upend Canada 79-78 and earn its first trip to the Olympics since 1992. Aaron Doornekamp committed the foul (which was reviewed to see if it occurred before the buzzer) and Gregory Vargas hit the first of two free throws with three tenths of a second left to put Venezuela up one. He missed the second on purpose and Canada had no chance to get a final shot off.


After a couple of big buckets from the Magic’s Andrew Nicholson and a jumper from the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk, Canada led 75-68 with three minutes to go. But Venezuela guard Heissler Guillent hit two huge 3-pointers to make it a one-point game. Then Olynyk lost the ball at midcourt and fouled Guillent when trying to recover it.

After Guillent’s two free throws put Venezuela up one, Nicholson hit one of two to tie the game. Venezuela then isolated Guillent on Cory Joseph. He missed the three, but Venezuela got a second chance to win the game with the Doornekamp foul on the rebound.

Olynyk led all scorers with 34 points on 11-for-13 shooting, adding 13 rebounds. Brady Heslip (10 points) was the only other Canadian in double figures. Andrew Wiggins scored nine points on 4-for-11 shooting, while Anthony Bennett went scoreless in 16 minutes. Olynyk and Wiggins combined for 10 turnovers.

Venezuela was playing without Greivis Vasquez and had no NBA players on its roster. Canada had nine.

The Toronto Star‘s Doug Smith was in Mexico City

Forget for a minute the call that put Gregory Vargas on the line with three-tenths of a second left, because it was an uncharacteristic performance from Canada all night that has derailed their Olympic dreams for now.

There were 17 turnovers, many ghastly and unforced; there were a dozen loose balls that weren’t corralled, there were missed rebounds and a general malaise that was in stark contrast to the way Canada had played each night for more than a week.

Nerves? Perhaps.

“It seemed like we were a little bit unsure,” said Triano. “I think this is a great experience for our young kids, Kelly (Olynyk, masterful with 34 points) is one of our most veteran guys, he’s been here before . . . a lot of these other guys have not been in this climate.”

In the second semifinal, Argentina beat host Mexico to earn its fourth straight trip to the Olympics. Mexico led by five at the half, but the game was tied with less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter when a 6-0 Argentina run gave them a lead they wouldn’t give up.

Luis Scola (18 points and 10 rebounds) and Andres Nocioni (10 and 13) both had double-doubles for Argentina as Manu Ginobili watched courtside. The Bucks’ Jorge Gutierrez had 17 points and four steals for Mexico, but fouled out with more than three minutes to go. After averaging 19 points through Mexico’s first eight games, Gustavo Ayon (eight points) had a quiet night, even though, like both Scola and Nocioni, he played all 40 minutes.

Canada and Mexico will have another chance to qualify for the Olympics in one of next year’s Olympic qualifying tournaments, but will most likely have to go through tougher competition out of Europe.



  1. john says:

    The whistle blew after the game was over. That is what should have mattered, not when the alleged foul might have occurred. Otherwise why don’t we go to the monitors after every foul and check when they actually happened and then add a second or two to the clock.

  2. titan776 says:


  3. Joe schmick says:

    México should have never lost they beat Venezuela lol

  4. Toto says:

    Venezuela played very well! No NBA players in the roster and beat Canada again! What a great team!
    They are very humble and played with the heart!

  5. harriethehawk says:

    I agree w/ keithmon. The Celtics made a good choice w/ Olynyk, He just keeps getting better and better.

  6. Ruby says:

    You Triano haters need to give your head a shake as well as learn a little more about the game. Was it Triano’s fault that Wiggins is 4 for 11 or Bennett is scoreless or Wiggins and Olynyk have 11 turnovers. Your mentality about giving the credit to the players when they win and blame it on the coach when they lose makes no sense. Canada is a team with very little international experience, very little nba experience and is extremely young. Age and experience at the international level is very important. Don’t count this team out yet for making the Olympics.

  7. Ignasand says:

    1.- 4 Venezuelan Stars (incluiding Greivis Vasquez) did not play for various reasons
    2.- Venezuela is 7-6 to Canada in the history of this tournament
    3- John Cox born in Caracas, Venezuela´s capital city
    4- Venezuela´s coach Che García is an International experienced Coach
    5- Canada never had a chance without a real international level coach
    6- Venezuela´s team is as young as Canada team
    6- There was no “phantom call” there was a stupid foul in the last second

    • titan776 says:

      1 – 5 Canadian stars (including Tristan Thompson) did not play for various reasons
      2 – The game was full of insane calls against Canada, and let Venezuela’s calls go
      3 – The foul at the end was absolutely ridiculous
      4 – Enjoy your 10 seconds of fame, because Canada will destroy you in the future
      5 – Who cares about where John Cox was born
      6 – after 6 comes 7, not 6 again

  8. TheKush says:

    I saw Wiggins sitting on the bench for like 10 minutes in the second half and what’s the point in having NBA players if they’re only playing a few minutes a game. Simply horrible coaching

  9. Fabricio says:

    ” The Canadian Men’s National Team had won its previous seven games..” False. Canada lost to Argentina in their first game.

    • titan776 says:

      ” The Canadian Men’s National Team had won its previous seven games..” TRUE. Canada lost the first game against Argentina, then went on to win 7 straight games. You obviously haven’t been paying attention.. so get your facts straight.

  10. Joseph says:

    Bad call! Refs blew it!

  11. Dave Milsom says:

    Jay Triano is not a motivator, has few plays in his playbook, and never gets emotional when it is occasionally required !
    Canada needs a better coach.

  12. Mario says:

    Very proud of my Venezuela Team!!! Amazing defensive team, the best of fiba Mexico 2015

    just 70.22 points Opponent average (After 9 Games) , If we work on more offense this team will be very good in Rio 2016.

  13. Roger says:

    I agree with the negative comments about Triano. Some coaches are great teachers, but are not great situational champions. He played his bench like this was a rec league for 5th graders and he had to make sure that all the parents were happy about the minutes their little darlings got to play. Look at the box score and you’ll find that those who had played so well to get him here, were given hardly any minutes, except for Olynyk. Triano then raves after the game about what a great learning experience it was for his young players. Eh??? I’m so sorry for Canada. Get a winner to coach them.

  14. T gas TT ako says:

    canada needs to find a new coach,,, 7 pts lead in 3 mins,, with 9 nba players,, i cant believe this,,,

  15. titan776 says:

    Out with Triano !!!!!

  16. Le Poutche says:

    Well known in France, John Cox was in Venezuela’s roster. He’s also known for being Kobe Bryant’s cousin.

  17. careless says:

    blame the Canadian coach’s not players

  18. Ryan says:

    Nik Stauskas has been Canada’s best three point shooter all tournament. Where was he tonight? He played only 15 minutes. He misses two threes and he gets benched for the coach’s nephew? Ridiculous! And how does Doornekamp, the man “responsible” for the phantom call at the end of the game, see 14 minutes of action in game this close? Triano choked.

  19. Jose Guzman says:

    You have no idea how tough that game was… I was one of the many who thought we had no chance against Canada. When the game was 75-68 coach Che Garcia took a timeout. He said: “We are three minutes away from the Olympics”. That was enough to inspire Venezuela’s young team to their second Olympic Games in our country’s history. Never been prouder!

    We were also playing without Gregory Echenique and Luis Bethelmy, both injured (they were not on the team).

  20. Maria jose Beltran says:


  21. keithmon says:

    Despite the loss, Olynyk’s emergence throughout this tournament has to give a glimmer of hope to Celtic fans.