Aug. 26, 2001
NEUQUEN, Argentina - Former Santa Clara University star and current Dallas Mavericks point guard Steve Nash led the Canadian men's basketball team to a 102-95 victory over Puerto Rico to capture third place at the COPABA Tournament of the Americas on Sunday. Nash (Victoria, BC) led Canada with 22 points and 11 assists while Kevin Jobity (Toronto, ON) finished with 21 (8-10 from the floor) as Canada has qualified for the 2002 World Championships.
Canada dominated the first half of play, taking a 60-46 lead into the locker room at halftime. Canada shot 78% from the floor and 42% from the three-point line in the first half. Prosper Karangwa (Montreal, QC) led all scorers at the break with 14 points (4-7 from 3FG).
Puerto Rico climbed back into the game in the second half, closing the gap to 75-70 after three quarters of play. Puerto Rico eventually tied the game at 90-90 with two minutes remaining in the game. With Canada leading 93-92 with 36 seconds left on the clock, Shawn Swords (Ottawa, ON) knocked in a three-pointer from the baseline that proved to be the game winner.
Puerto Rico failed on their next three attempts, fouling Nash after each miss. Nash sealed the victory and the bronze medal sinking all six of his free throws in the final 23 seconds.
"I am very pleased with the victory tonight and a third-place finish," said head coach Jay Triano. "It was great to get revenge for an earlier loss against Puerto Rico.
"All of our players battled hard. We are happy with the progress we made in the tournament - especially with five players making their debut in an international tournament of such importance. It was a tremendous experience for all of our players to play in an atmosphere like this.
Nash and Jobity led the Canadian squad in scoring. Karangwa finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Todd MacCulloch (Winnipeg, MB) scored 14 points.
In the semifinals on Saturday, Argentina defeated Canada, 97-76, in front of a capacity and partisan crowd of 5,000 to advance to the finals of the world championship qualification tournament.
Canada put forward a courageous effort for three quarters, but a 15-4 run to begin the final quarter allowed Argentina to pull away.
Canada played the game with only nine players on the bench as starters Sherman Hamilton (Malton, ON) and Mike Meeks (Brampton, ON) were both injured in Friday night's contest against Brazil. Andrew Kwiatkowski (Cambridge, ON) was also unavailable for action as he returned to Canada on Friday.
Despite being undermanned, Canada opened the second half with an 8-0 run that tied the score at 50-50. But Canada had to deal with foul trouble for the remainder of the game as both Peter Guarasci (Niagara Falls, ON) and Todd MacCulloch (Winnipeg, MB) picked up their fourth fouls midway through the third quarter.
Argentina led 68-63 after three quarters before going on their game-clinching run. Canada was then forced to play a quick game to catch up, but ran out of steam and time.
"I am very proud of the way we played tonight," said head coach Jay Triano. "The final score does not indicate how well our team competed and put on an outstanding performance under the circumstances - playing short handed, hostile environment, etc. We were oversized at most positions, but we were not out-worked."
Todd MacCulloch led Canada with 21 points and five boards. Prosper Karangwa (Montreal, QC) followed with 18 points and five rebounds while Steve Nash (Victoria, BC) finished with 12 points and eight assists.