By CRAIG DANIELS -- Toronto Sun
SYDNEY -- Tough room.
The final placings when the Olympic basketball tournament is all said and done will show Canada's men finished seventh.
What it won't show is that a 5-2 record in the wake of last night's 86-83 double-OT classification victory over Russia is the best record for a Canadian basketball team at the Olympics in 64 years, second only to a 5-1 record and a silver medal at Berlin in 1936.
It won't show Canada finished with the second-best record of this tournament, behind only the U.S., and better than France, which beat Canada in the quarter-final and is in tonight's gold-medal game.
The Olympics is a hard lesson. It doesn't matter who you necessarily beat -- it matters when you beat them.
"I told them they should hold their heads up," Canadian coach Jay Triano said, after his team recovered from a 13-point Russian lead to avenge a loss earlier in the tournament.
"They went 5-2 at the Olympics and beat everybody in their pool. If I had said that before I got here, not too many people would have believed me."
Canada outscored Russia 8-2 in the second overtime. A pair of Todd MacCulloch free throws with 12 seconds left and Canada leading by one, followed by a defensive stop on Russia's Serguei Tchikalkine, sealed the victory.
Victoria's Steve Nash was the architect, as he has been all tournament. Nash, the Dallas Mavericks point guard, scored or assisted on eight of Canada's 10 points in the second overtime.
"It's too bad," said Nash, who said he likely would play for Canada again in Athens in 2004. "It all comes down to the day. As a group, I think we may have deserved more than we got."
Niagara Falls forward Peter Guarasci led Canada with 21 points. Brampton's Mike Meeks had 15, and Nash, 14.
A hamstring injury kept Toronto's Rowan Barrett out of the game.