SAN JUAN (FIBA Americas Championship) - Canada are celebrating one of their finest moments in basketball after qualifying for the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
In a do-or-die showdown with the Dominican Republic at the FIBA Americas Championship in Puerto Rico on Friday night, the Canadians prevailed 80-76 to claim the fourth and final spot on offer for next year's big event.
Brazil, Puerto Rico and Argentina had already booked their places before the day's Quarter-Final Round games.
"When you look at this tournament, we're the youngest team by a couple of years," said Canada coach Leo Rautins.
"The fact that these guys can overcome that, and come together as a group, I'm really proud of them."
The Canadians last played at the FIBA World Championship in 2002, when the event was staged in Indianapolis, and they came in 13th out of 16 teams.
In 2004, Canada didn't reach the Athens Olympics and two years later, when the FIBA World Championship was expanded to 24 teams in Japan, Canada didn't qualify again.
They also missed out on the Beijing Games after an early exit at last summer's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
"These guys have taken a lot of crap," Rautins said of his team.
"They've been crapped on, they've been ignored, they've been put down. Unfairly so, because the people who have criticized them are really not aware of what we're up against in the world of basketball.
"To see these guys achieve this, honestly, it's as satisfying a feeling as I can imagine having. It's tremendous."