After a thrilling victory over Uruguay, San Antonio Spurs’ Cory Joseph and the Canadian national team concluded play at the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship with a 91-89 loss to Panama.
Both teams came out firing to start the game, as Panama stormed out to a 6-2 lead early in the game.
However, Carl English scored 15 points in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers, that gave Canada a narrow 27-24 lead after the opening quarter.
In the second quarter, Panama began to close the gap early in the period behind Gary Forbes’ offensive scoring.
Canada regained the lead with an alley-oop by Jevohn Shepherd. Both teams exchanged points the rest of the quarter, with Panama taking a one point lead into halftime 49-48.
The seesaw battle continued into the second half, as neither team would allow the other to take more than a four point lead in the third quarter, the teams battled back and forth and ended the period tied at 70.
Into the fourth quarter, Forbes continued to be a force offensively, denying Canada to take the lead. A three-pointer by Forbes with 16 seconds remaining in the game restored a five point lead for Panama 91-86.
Andy Rautins hit a 3-pointer with a second left, for the game’s final score.
English led Canada with 24 points, Rautins added 14, while Joseph had four points, four rebounds and one steal in 22 minutes of play.
Canada played without the services of Aaron Doornekamp and Miami Heat’s Joel Anthony.
Forbes finished with a game-high 39 points, while teammate Ruben Garces had 21 points for Panama.
Joseph and Canada finished the tournament with a 3-5 record (1-3 in the second round).
The loss ends Canada’s hopes of participating in the 2012 Olympics in London, as they finish outside the top five teams in the tournament; therefore will not qualify for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July 2012.
Meanwhile, in a media conference call following Canada’s loss to Panama, head coach Leo Rautins announced that he is stepping down as head coach of the Canadian national team.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the team, watching them grow and improve, but change is a good thing and it is time for a new voice in the locker room,” said Rautins.
Wayne Parrish, CEO of Canada Basketball, said he respects Rautins’ decision but that he and Maurizio Gherardini, Managing Director of the men’s program, are anxious to have him continue to be involved in some capacity.