FIBA Americas: Canada's Olympic hopes take hit with heartbreaking loss
Kelly Olynyk shines, but Venezuela sinks late free throws
Canada suffered a heartbreaking 79-78 loss to Venezuela at the FIBA Americas on Friday night, putting on hold their hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games.
The Canadians will now play for bronze against Mexico on Saturday.
Canada needed to advance to the championship match to qualify for Rio through the FIBA Americas. The men's team will, however, have one more opportunity to earn a spot in Rio next summer at the world qualifying tournament.
"It's very disappointing, obviously. Our dreams have been put on hold," said Head Coach Jay Triano.
Kelly Olynyk score 34 points and added 13 rebounds for Canada while Brady Heslip chipped in with 10 off the bench.
"They out-hustled us, they out-worked us. I didn't lead my team today. I'm disappointed. It happens," said Cory Joseph, Canada's team captain.
Canada's men's squad hasn't participated in the Olympics since Sydney 2000.
Gregory Vargas made a free throw with 0.3 seconds left after being fouled on an offensive rebound as Venezuela stunned Canada.
Windi Graterol scored 20 points, and Heissler Guillent added 19 — eight in the final 4 minutes — to help Venezuela qualify for the Olympics for the first time since Barcelona in 1992.
With the score tied at 78, Vargas pulled down the offensive rebound and was fouled by Aaron Doornekamp. The officials reviewed the play and determined the foul came before the buzzer. Vargas made his first attempt and missed the second on purpose to end the game.
"Canada is a great team, but we thought that a big one can fall. It was David versus Goliath and we came on top, we leave everything out there," Venezuela coach Nestor Garcia said.
"This is an historic day for Venezuela. Many people doubted that we were capable of this. I'm proud of this team."
Andrew Wiggins added nine points for Canada.
Venezuela was an after-thought to qualify because of the absence of three starters, among them point guard Greivis Vazquez of the Milwaukee Bucks.
In the second semifinal, Argentina earned a spot in the Olympics, overcoming an 11-point deficit to beat Mexico 78-70.
Luis Scola had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Argentina, and Facundo Campazzo added 15 points.
Argentina reached the Olympics for the fourth straight time, advancing with a team featuring only two members of the teams that won the gold medal in 2004 and a bronze in 2008.
Jorge Gutierrez scored 17 points for Mexico.
With files from The Canadian Press and Canada Basketball