ATHENS (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men) - Canada shocked Korea with a second-half comeback for the ages to keep their hopes of reaching the Beijing Games alive.
Leo Rautins’ team trailed by 18 points early in the third quarter and was still down by 10 with less than two minutes remaining but ended up winning 79-77.
Canada will now take on the winner of Croatia’s Group D game with Puerto Rico.
“We got a second chance, that’s basically it,” Canada coach Rautins said.
“Our guys settled down and starting playing basketball.
“I just told these guys to stay with it, and `you’ve got to believe in yourselves.’”
Jermaine Anderson’s three-pointer with 34 seconds left put Canada in front for the first time since the first quarter.
After he split a pair at the line for a 79-77 advantage, Korea had 11 seconds remaining to tie or take the lead.
Oh Sekeun drove into the lane and put the ball up but missed as time expired.
“This is a game I will remember until the day I die,” said Korean coach Kim Nam-gi.
Rowan Barrett, the 35-year-old veteran, drilled six of nine shots from three-point range on his way to a game-high 22 points for Canada.
The finish was amazing.
A Jung Young Sam three-point play with 3:12 gave Korea 77-65 lead.
Levon Kendall, who was immense on the boards in the second half with 11 of his game-high 14 rebounds, scored with a tip-in for Canada with 2:42 to go.
The turning point came with 2:03 remaining when Oh dribbled the ball up the floor, only for Anderson to reach in with his left hand and knock the ball away.
Anderson dribbled the ball in for an uncontested lay-up.
Korea then failed to inbound the ball within the five-second limit and turned it over, and Carl English punished them with a drive while also getting fouled.
He made the free throw and suddenly Canada trailed 77-72 with 1:42 to go.
David Thomas fouled Jung Young Sam but the guard missed both free throws, and a closely-guarded Barrett stepped behind the arc and drilled another three to cut Korea’s advantage to 77-75 with 1:19 left.
Victory continued to slip out of the Koreans’ hands when English stole the ball from Oh, only for Oh to step in front of English to draw a charge.
Korea self-destructed and failed to get a shot off before the 24-second shot-clock expired, turning it back over.
That set the stage for Anderson’s three-pointer that put Canada in front for good.
Canada won despite playing with just 11 men.
Philadelphia 76ers center Samuel Dalembert was released from the team after Tuesday’s defeat to Slovenia.
“Without going into too much detail, it’s a situation that we decided to move forward with the players who have the passion and desire to play for Canada,” Rautins said.
“It’s disappointing for sure, but I think you have to have players who are a 100% committed to it.
“If not, it’s not going to happen for us.”
If Canada qualify for the Beijing Games, they will be able to add another player to replace Dalembert.
Korea lost despite shooting 13 of 25 from long range, including nine of 14 in the first half.
Chun Jungkyu made five of eight from behind the arc en route to 19 first-half points.
Canada held him without a point the rest of the way.
Rautins’ team finished 10 of 21 from three-point range.