After a rest day, quarterfinal round action in the 2011 FIBA Americas tournament being conducted in Mar del Plata, Argentina continues this week toward its Sunday finish. .
The preliminary round got cranked up back on August 31 and in Group A the Dominican Republic and Brazil tied for the group lead with 3-1 records. The Dominican Republic finished atop the group due to their 79-74 win on September 2 over the Brazilians. Venezuela and Canada also advanced to the quarterfinals with 2-2 records.
In Group B it was the Argentines who finished atop the group with a spotless 4-0 record in front of the home folks with Puerto Rico second at 3-1 after their 81-74 showdown loss to Argentina on September 2.
Uruguay finished third in Group B play at 2-2 and Panama was 1-3, but advanced to the quarters due to their narrow 89-86 September 1 win over Paraguay.
Cuba and Paraguay finished winless in their respective groups and were eliminated.
In the FIBA Americas championship quarterfinal round which runs through September 8 and can be seen on ESPN3, the remaining eight teams are combined into a single group with their preliminary round records carrying over.
Group B leader Argentina will face off against Canada and Group B runner up Puerto Rico will play Venezuela. Top four teams left after this round will head to the knockout round semifinals that start on September 10.
The teams that reach the September 11 title game will automatically qualify for the London Games as the reps from the FIBA Americas zone. The third, fourth and fifth place teams will have one final shot to qualify at next July's FIBA Olympics World Qualifying Tournament at a site to be determined.
As for Team Canada, they have a tough few days ahead of them if they want to make it to the knockout round and stay in contention for that 2012 Olympic berth. In addition to starting off quarterfinal round play with the homestanding Argentines, they play Jose Barea and Puerto Rico tomorrow before finishing up with Uruguay on September 7 and Panama on September 8.
The 'Road Warriors' have three NBA ballers of their own on this FIBA Americas squad in the Heat's Joel Anthony, Andy Rautins of the Knicks and Spurs draftee Cory Joseph but have had some up and down games in this FIBA Americas tournament.
Canada jumped out to a 17-12 lead in their opening round robin game with Brazil and was trailing by only a point headed into the fourth quarter until a Brazilian 14-0 run broke it open and led to a 69-57 loss
They had a 12 point lead in the fourth quarter against the Dominican Republic and held a 10 point bulge with two minutes to go until the John Calipari coached Dominican squad made the Canadians sweat down the stretch.
It took clutch free throws late from Aaron Doornekamp with 2.9 seconds left to build a four point lead for Canada which they needed because a buzzer beating three pointer swished in to make the final margin 73-72.
Team Canada then blew out the Cubans 84-62 before falling in overtime to the Grievis Vazquez led Venezuelan squad 103-98.
They may want to step it up because with all the strong European squads that will not qualify via the FIBA Eurobasket tournament currently being contested in Lithuania, you'd rather handle your basketball business now rather than have to do it in the much deeper talent pool of the last chance tournament later.
We'll see if Team Canada can make a successful run to Olympic qualification and if the host 'Golden Generation' Argentine ballers run the table and walk off the court with the FIBA Americas title and a ticket to London in hand.