The Dominican Republic won again today, beating Mexico 86-73. Francisco Garcia sat the game out to rest, and Charlie Villanueva and Al Horford played limited minutes, also to rest. Why? Because these teams are playing every day now -- every squad will be playing its fourth game in four days on Friday, and its seventh game in nine days.
And Friday happens to be pretty important for two teams, the D.R. and Canada. The pair will face off with the final spot in the FIBA Americas 2009 semifinals on the line. Along with that spot comes an automatic berth to the FIBA World Championships in Turkey next summer. The D.R. hasn't qualified for the Worlds since 1978. They'd probably tell you their goal in San Juan is to win the gold, but the realistic goal is to qualify for Turkey. And the team is one game away from doing just that.
Canada began the tournament blazing before some jackass jinxed them (in the process of emboldening Argentina, which later beat the Dominicans in overtime; God, what a jackass). The Canadians are led by guards Carl English, who plays for the ACB's Saski Baskonia, and Andy Rautins, a Syracuse senior. Rautins is a killer shooter; he scored 23 points in 20 minutes against Panama today. Shoot-out, anyone?
The D.R. and Canada are scheduled to face off at 3:30 PM Pacific on Friday, though Tropical Depression Erika is headed for Puerto Rico tonight, so who knows. You can watch the game on ESPN 360, by paying for it at FIBA.com, or through those other methods. (If you live in Canada, I think The Score shows the national team's games.)