It was late in the afternoon as Canada and Puerto Rico took the court, the two American teams fighting for the last spot in the Olympic finals. The Canadians have led an exemplary tournament this far, winning five of the six games they played by fifteen points or more; Puerto Rico’s path was decidedly rockier, but they showed concrete signs of brilliance under the lead of FBA superstar Vera La Tiérra (Red Fox, G) – many players stepping up to the vulpine’s level as they defeated seemingly stronger sides such as Japan and Sweden.
La Tiérra was electric early in the first, the vixen having provocatively tweeted before the game her desire to give Canada “a run for their money, maybe even more” (cit.) The Puerto Ricans did just that, immediately jumping into a small lead as they exploited the combined power of Vera and veteran small forward Horacio McCrohon-Blanco (Black and White Cat, F/G). Ever since the beginning of the tournament, the 34-year old feline has being leaving his all on the court in a bid to give his nation a medal – tackling stronger and more experienced opponents such as Yves Carbonneau (Arctic Fox, G/F) without the slightest fear. Canada had to work hard to pull back, the lead going back and forth throughout the 1st half before they managed to get on a positive run in the tail end of the 2nd quarter. As both teams filed into the tunnel, the North Americans were leading by 8 over Puerto Rico, 61-53 the score.
It was Canada’s game to lose and the players donning the white-and-red jerseys knew it well. Both Carbonneau and Natalie Bellemare (Atlantic Puffin, C/F) excelled on offense in the 3rd, extending their team’s lead at the price of a few extra fouls. The Puerto Ricans hung on, but they seemed to have no solution to counter their opponent’s well-tried plays – Carol Quiñones (Wolf, F/C) being the main beacon of hope in a game that quickly seemed to be going south, the lupine posting a double-double of 18 points, 16 rebounds and 3 assists in less than 26 minutes of play.
The Canadians’ early foul trouble was not to be discounted, as Carbonneau and Bellemare left the field in quick succession after posting their sixth personal. Both Quiñones and McCrohon-Blanco went repeatedly to the line, their nearly flawless shooting still not enough to contrast the Canadian reserves – Lauren Fash (Five-lined Skink, G/F) exploiting her added playtime by posting two consecutive three-pointers late in the 4th. As the buzzer sounded throughout the Furry Olympic Dome, Canada celebrated their 119-106 victory against Puerto Rico – Neo Tomasi’s (Leopard) team howling at the top of their lungs as they celebrated their guaranteed medal, the color soon to be decided in tomorrow’s final match-up against the United States.
One thing is certain – with this kind of opposition, Team US’ confirmation on the top of the podium is absolutely in discussion.
-M. Chen, FurryOlympics.com