Tristan Thompson grabs a rebound against Venezuela at the FIBA Americas Championship. (Reuters)Canada's fourth-quarter rally came up just short against host Venezuela, losing 64-59 at the FIBA Americas Championship in Caracas.
Down 60-46 with just over five minutes left, Canada's senior men's basketball team went on a 13-0 run to cut the deficit to one with less than two minutes to play. That's as close as they would come, as Venezuela tightened up defensively and held on for the win.
"A lot of credit to Venezuela. It was a very physical game and a great environment for our players to play in," said head coach Jay Triano. "This tournament is more than one game and we have to find a way to bounce back."
Cory Joseph was Canada's leading scorer with 14 points. Tristan Thompson grabbed 20 rebounds to go along with 12 points.
Canada's lagging defensive execution allowed Venezuela plenty of open shots from the perimeter. They were slow on screen-and-roll coverage and closing out on shooters and Venezuela took advantage, hitting 10/22 from beyond the arc.
Canada only converted 4/25 from three and shot 34% overall.
"That's the best defensive team we've seen so far. They did a great job of taking us out of what we were trying to do, containing us, and making us take tough shots," said Triano.
Andrew Nicholson's international inexperience was again on display. He picked up three fouls in the first quarter, forcing him to the bench early, and he fouled out early in the fourth.
"He's one of our better players and one of our leading scorers so to have him not really be able to play in this game, that hurt us," said Triano. "We're a very young team and our age is very young compared to the Venezuela team and I think experience showed today."
The win vaults Venezuela ahead of Canada in the overall standings with two games left before the semifinals.
Canada is now 3-2 and needs to finish in the top four of the eight teams remaining to qualify for the semis, which ensures a berth in next summer's FIBA World Cup.
Canada takes on the Dominican Republic on Saturday (5:30 p.m. Eastern/2:30 p.m. Pacific, SN360).