By Alfredo R. Berrios
SAN JUAN -- Canada defeated the Dominican Republic 80-76 and grabbed the final berth for the 2010 FIBA World Championship. The field is now complete as Canada joins Argentina, Brazil and Puerto Rico.
After Canada's unexpected qualification, coach Leo Rautins said he'll add three NBA players to the roster.
"We're going to be making some changes," said Rautins after the victory over the Dominican Republic. "Maybe (Steve) Nash, Matt Bonner, Jamaal Magloire. We're very excited."
Rautins was quick to give credit to the players who helped Canada clinch the final berth.
"I'm very proud of those guys. We had 12 players here. There weren't any stars," Rautins said. "They never gave up."
Canada held off the Dominican Republic to clinch a berth in the final four.
(AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
The Canadian coach applauded their opponent's poise and effort on the court, being that they never gave up despite blowing an eight-point lead at halftime.
"I tip my hat off to the Dominican Republic. They're a talented team that worked from start to finish," Rautins said.
Rautins and the Canadians will now face Brazil.
"We have the opportunity to play every team that has beaten us. We have that second chance," Rautins added.
Jermaine Anderson led Canada with 21 points, Carl English scored 13, Jesse Young had 11 and Levon Kendall added 10 with 11 rebounds. Aaron Doornekamp scored eight points and made two crucial baskets in the victory.
Canada hasn't qualified for a FIBA World Championship since 2002 when they finished in 13th place. The Dominicans haven't qualified for the FIBA World Championship since 1978.
Luis Flores and Charlie Villanueva both scored 17, while Al Horford finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds in defeat.
Francisco Garcia (Sacramento Kings) did not play in Friday's game between the Dominican Republic and Canada. The reports in regards to his injury were conflictive.
According to Dominican Republic's coach Julio Toro, Garcia did not play due to a fractured ring finger which made it difficult for him to shoot the ball.
"He has a fracture in one of his fingers and can't play," Toro told ESPNdeportes.com before the game against Canada.
Charlie Villanueva's Twitter page said something else about Garcia's injury.
"It's believed that Garcia's injury is actually not that serious. He's OK to play, but the higher-ups in Sacramento shut him down," a post on Villanueva's Twitter account said.
The post was later removed.
Garcia, who was in uniform, joined his teammates on the bench.
The Dominican Republic, which finished fifth at the FIBA Americas Championship, could still get an invite to Turkey.
"As always, we are going to apply all our efforts for the fifth (place) team in the tournament to receive an invitation," said Horacio Muratore, executive president of FIBA Americas. "From there, the general secretary (of FIBA) and the central bureau will analyze and decide."
In the past, Puerto Rico has been one of the countries invited to the World Championship after failing to qualify in FIBA Americas tourneys.
Six of the seven NBA players in this tournament have performed up to their expectations.
Argentina's Luis Scola (Houston Rockets) is leading the tournament with a 21.9 points per game average. Brazilian Leandro Barbosa (Phoenix Suns) is second at 20.5 and the Dominican Republic's Charlie Villanueva (Detroit Pistons) is fifth at 17.1.
Three of the other five players posted averages in double digits with the exception of Canada's Joel Anthony (8.6) of the Miami Heat.
Reality and entertainment came together Thursday night at the Caribe Hilton hotel where the players are staying in San Juan.
WWE wrestlers arrived in Puerto Rico for three shows scheduled for the weekend. Some players had their pictures taken with C.M. Punk and the Undertaker, who will be starring in the three shows scheduled to take place at several locations in Puerto Rico.
At the conclusion of the FIBA Americas quarterfinal round, 14 of the 24 teams participating in the World Championship in Turkey in 2010 will be known.
According to FIBA's website, Turkey and the United States have qualified as the host country and Olympic champion, respectively.
Iran, China and Jordan represent Asia while Africa is represented by Ivory Coast, Tunisia and Angola. New Zealand and Australia round up the Oceania group.
Brazil, Puerto Rico, Argentina and Canada will represent the Americas.
What's left now is the European qualifying tournament, popularly known as EuroBasket, from which six representatives will come out. The European championship tournament starts September 16 with the participation of 16 teams.
The other four countries (wild cards) that complete the list of 24 teams through invitations will be announced December 13. The FIBA World Championship will take place August 28-Sept. 12, 2010. The draw is likely to take place in January in Turkey. The exact date and location has still to be confirmed.