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Roy Rana (CAN), 15 Joel Anthony (CAN)
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Canada's Roy Rana: ''A great and historic win for our country''

SÃO PAULO (FIBA Basketball World Cup Americas Qualifiers 2019) — Brazil's great victory in Canada improved their record, 8-2, in Group F and with only two games left to conclude the Americas Qualifiers, they achieved their ticket to the World Cup in China. Brazil must win their next two encounters in February to ensure their appearance.

Canadian coach Roy Rana emphasized on the great 94-67 win at the Wlamir Marques Stadium against the Brazilian powerhouses: "A great and historic win for our country. Character wins and I could not be more proud of all the guys who helped us through the windows to date as we now advance to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China. We’re especially grateful for the leadership of Joel Anthony. A Canadian basketball treasure!”

"It's a great feeling. It's been a long time since this country has had a chance to be back on the world stage. I remember when we qualified the last time and just a really proud feeling to be able to be back and see us get back there. To be able to be a part of it is extremely special to me,” shared center Joel Anthony.

Despite falling short from their goal of qualifying in this stage, Brazil's confidence is still intact towards their technical team and players to get it in February, when they play against the Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic. Marquinhos Souza, who returned to the national team after the Olympic Games in Rio, assured in his expressions that after the defeat against Canada, the team will indeed qualify.

During that second period, Canada marked a decisive run, 10-0, and scored 31 points in the third quarter. For Marquinhos, the Canadians’ evening was in the cards, and no conversation in the changing rooms could have changed the fate of the game.

“That happens in basketball. Sometimes the team doesn’t answer as it should. Scoring 94 points in an international game is very difficult. We lacked disposition and energy. Unfortunately, it was an atypical game. We wanted to win and qualify at home, but we weren't good in the defense and that cost us the victory. The road is long, but we can improve and try to qualify against the Virgin Islands in the next game. We couldn't be in the offense what Brazil has been during the qualifiers. It's a night to forget,” the small forward added, who was also Brazil’s greatest scorer, with 17 points.

Kyle Wiltjer, who led the Canadian offense with 25 points and 7 rebounds, was surprised with the qualification: "It feels amazing to travel all this way and accomplish our goal." Meanwhile, shooting guard Brady Heslip added: "Proud of this team and we'll see you in China." Kaza Kajami-Keane, one of the youngest players of the group, also shared his joy of qualifying: "I'm just excited and honored to represent our country in qualifying for the World Cup. Just have to continue to strive to become better and put ourselves in position to win alot more games."

Canada left Brazil at 67 points, who had come in from scoring 100 against the Dominican Republic, one of the other national teams that will be a direct rival to a place in China. “We lost confidence. Canada was better from the start, we started to defend better, and in the end, we couldn’t keep it up. We changed the team’s rotation because we were obsessed about stopping the Canadians, and we then had problems in the defensive transition. We couldn’t come back on time. It was an atypical game. After 6 days of work, and with the great victory against the Dominican Republic, we didn't give any signal that we could have this type of game. We lost the defensive balance and the confidence, and everything favored Canada, who scored many important shots,” said Croatian coach Aleksandar Petrović, about the defeat.

The 36-year-old center, Anderson Varejão, is currently living an impressive moment with the Verdeamarelha jersey. He’s among the leaders in practically all important tournament statistics. He leads in two-point throws, with 61.5%; third in rebounds, with 4.5% per game; second in efficiency, with 18.8%; and first in double-doubles, with three in eight games. “We have to defend more aggressively. We didn't do that against Canada. We must play more together in the attack. We didn't create the plays and we stayed on the individual game,” the center assured.

Brazil’s first decisive duel for a place at the World Cup will take place against the Virgin Islands, on February 21, as visitors. The second one will be on February 24, against the Dominican Republic. One victory and they're qualified, which is why one of the most veteran players, Leandro Barbosa, analyzed: “I'm in a rush now to qualify the Brazilian team.”

Canada’s participation at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 will be the team’s fourteenth in the tournament, and their first since the 2010 FIBA World Championship. Brazil will have to wait.