Canada beat Mexico to advance to the America’s Cup semi-finals

Team Canada never won a gold medal in the FIBA ​​AmeriCup, the last time they won the silver was in 1999, and the last time they won the bronze was in 2015. The tournament featured a young and inexperienced roster – including a coach who debuted on Top 1 Team earlier this summer – No one expected Canada to find its way to the podium in Brazil, as it finished seventh in the FIBA ​​rankings entering the tournament.

So far here they are. After defeating Team Mexico 82-77 in the quarter-finals on Thursday, Canada will get a chance to play for a medal on Sunday no matter how far they falter in the semi-finals. Not that they accept bronze or anything else. Canada has a real chance to move forward, and they have proven it by outpacing the Mexicans in fifth place with a mature team victory on Thursday, improving and learning more about themselves as the tournament goes on.

Canada started Lloyd Bundy in place of Thomas Kennedy against Mexico, not because Kennedy underperformed – if anything the most consistent big man in Canada throughout the tournament – but because Canada had success playing smaller squads, with only one big man on the floor Surrounded by more guards and moving wings. The new starting lineup allowed Canada to swing in starting position Calif Young and Kennedy throughout the match.

“I think it helped us apply more pressure to the ball, and gave us more distance. The advantage of having this guy – Dalano Banton – who can play from one to four, being 6ft-9, kind of helps in his rebounding ability as well. Team Canada coach Nathaniel Mitchell told me what I love. Smaller lineup. “And then I thought Lloyd Bundy, at 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5, bounces the ball, does tough games, and knocks it out. It really helps.”

“I think our goalkeepers are strong. They’re tough and really make up for some volume. I don’t think that can happen all the time. Depending on the opponent, I think there are points in the game where you have to pick and choose, but going that way today really helped us.”

Pandi was great in this base round, scoring 11 points in a 4/6 shot and boxing two bigger players. He changed the rules of the game in this tournament, carving out a role as the tournament went on and, as Mitchell noted, allowing Canada to play smaller squads without sacrificing much on the board or home defense.

Trae Bell-Haynes and Javhon Henry-Blair thrived as these formations increased spacing, combining 24 points (5/10 from three), 11 rebounds and 8 assists. Young and Kennedy both had more room to work with under the basket, combining 12 points and 8 rebounds. Young had his best match of the tournament, bringing energy and toughness right from the start and ending with much greater intent at the brink, ending with a high of +16.

But Toronto Raptor goalkeeper Dalano Banton was once again the best player on Earth for the Canadians. After a slow first half, in which Banton scored only 3 points, Banton finished the match with 16 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals. After Canada fell 57-56 with 7:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, Banton scored or assisted in 7 of their next nine points, giving them a lead they wouldn’t give up.

“My teammates keep pushing me whether I have 3 points or 20 points, so throughout the first half, throughout the third quarter, they kept telling me to turn it on and keep going, keep shooting, and do what I have to do in order of how he was able to improve as he progressed,” Banton says. game.” They kept looking for me. They still trust me when I shoot or if I decide to do a play, or if I put on a bad one, they will still trust me to do it again. So there is trust from your teammates and coaches, it allows you to do good things.”

Banton has been an inspiration to Team Canada in the tournament and is the biggest reason they had a legitimate chance to finish on the podium. The Canadians lead with points (18.5), rebounds (6.3) and assists (4.8) after four AmeriCup matches. And while some people have expected Production to be sort of the only NBA player on the team, Banton is only 22 years old and making his Team Canada debut at this tournament, and the roster of players with such little experience dominates at the highest-level championship. International Basketball is on a very, very short level.

“For me, just to be able to represent my country for the first time, I’ve always wanted to do it,” Banton said of his intentions with AmeriCup. “Just being able to have a lot of reps. Lots of game reps. Takes from [what I’ve been working on in] exercises and try to translate them into the game. And playing against a high-level competition is great any time you can be able to push yourself and play with players who trust me, and play with players who expect me to try to lead, so it’s a different role here and I accept that and I play it…”

“I hope to keep playing FIBA ​​and keep playing for Canada. So it is a great first experience and I hope to keep learning.”

Part of such a big role is the need to make more decisions and the ball is in your hands, especially in game period. And if there’s one area Banton can dodge in both this tournament and earlier this summer in the NBA Summer League — an area he needs to improve in order to land a role in the Raptors — it’s his decision. and transformations. Banton 4 had turnovers against the Mexicans, and it almost cost them a game that was close. But after the game, Mitchell – who is also an assistant coach for the Raptors – noted that Banton had acknowledged his spinning problem and talked about why Banton was in Brazil in the first place.

He made the right play [throughout]. He had seven assists tonight. And he told me about cleaning up some of his sales and things like that. So it is a learning process. He is a young player. “We’re going to continue to grow through it,” Mitchell said. “The best thing you can do while learning and making mistakes is to win. So I hope we can keep growing and I think he did a really good job tonight.”

Canada has now overcome three deficits in the last quarter in a row, winning all of its matches in return fashion. They will want to avoid putting themselves in the same position against Brazil, which they will face for the second time on Saturday, this time in the semi-finals.

While Brazil won the opening match 72-63, the match was closer than the score dictated, with Canada visibly shaken out of the gate by Brazil fans, a huge advantage in this tournament. Plus, Canada only fired 3/28 of three in the game, many of which look wide open. Given that Canada has since figured out how to play smaller squads and improved their energy levels and focus, they have a very real chance of beating Brazil. After all, confidence is a huge factor in a fast-moving tournament like the AmeriCup, and Canada has plenty of it in the semi-finals.

“It was a really big win for us. We are a team that just came together [at the last minute]. So when we play together and play like we did throughout the whole game, it was great for us to move on to the next game just realizing that we can overcome adversity with each other and rely on each other throughout the game,” Banton said. [still] Learn the FIBA ​​game. We learn rulers. So we’re just trying to keep playing the right way. We’ll match intensity, we’ll match aggressiveness, and hopefully we can continue to do that.”

Canada and Brazil will play the Copa America semi-finals at 8:40 p.m. local time (7:40 p.m. EST) on Saturday, September 10. They will meet Team USA or Team Argentina on the other side of the arc.