With Jermaine Anderson playing his best game of the tournament and four clutch free throws in the dying seconds, Canada beat the Dominican Republic 80-76 on Friday night at the FIBA Americas world championship qualification tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Anderson, for years trying to shake the tag of "national team point guard who isn’t Steve Nash" had a brilliant second half, eventually pouring in 21 points to lead Canada, which now returns to the world championships for the first time since 2002.
The magnitude of the win cannot be overstated. With solid development programs at the under-19 and under-17 levels, Canada desperately needed to see some success at the senior level to give the teenagers something to aspire to.
And now, because of the win over ex-Raptor Charlie Villaneuva and the Dominicans, Canada will join the world’s elite next summer in Turkey.
Joel Anthony and Andy Rautins made key free throws in the final 20 seconds for Canada, which rode some hot long-range shooting to the win.
Canada was 14-for-27 from three-point range and Anderson was five of eight after going just 3-for-21 on three-pointers in the first seven games of the tournament.
Canada now faces Brazil in a relatively meaningless semifinal of the 10-team tournament and will face either Argentina or Puerto Rico for gold or bronze on Sunday. The semis and finals are played just to establish seeding going into next year’s worlds.