TIJUANA, MEXICO (June 10, 2022) - The Canadian Men’s U18 National Team advanced to the semifinals at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship 2022 with an 86-78 victory over Puerto Rico on Friday. With the win, Canada clinches a qualification spot for the FIBA U19 World Cup 2023 next summer in Debrecen, Hungary.
Canada was led by a 16-point performance from Jordann Dumont who shot 6-for-12 from the floor and finished with three three-pointers. Elijah Fisher added 12 points for Canada, while Vasean Allette and Michael Nwoko added 11 points apiece. Nwoko also added 12 rebounds for a double-double.
Puerto Rico was led by a game-high 18-point performance from Yaniel Rivera who shot 8-for-11 from the floor. Alejandro Aviles and Geancarlo Peguero scored 16 points apiece in the loss.
“Puerto Rico is a feisty, tenacious team that never gives up,” Team Canada head coach Patrick Tatham said in advance of Friday’s game. “We’ve had our battles as a nation against Puerto Rico in the past.”
Tatham was proven right on Friday as the Puerto Ricans continued to push until the final seconds, making Canada earn their third victory in five days.
Though the Canadians led by just four after the opening 10 minutes, they continued to build on their lead and they never trailed in the game. After a slow start where both teams struggled to score in the opening quarter, things began to pick up in the second. Puerto Rico’s early offensive struggles came largely from Canada’s defensive impact inside. Canada didn’t let Puerto Rico get anything easy at the rim, with David Simon and Favour Ibekwe blocking anything that came near. Canada had five blocks in the opening quarter as Puerto Rico shot just 22 percent in the quarter. Canada held a 13-9 advantage after the opening 10 minutes.
Canada began to find its offensive rhythm in the second quarter, outscoring Puerto Rico 27-21 in the second frame to take a 10-point advantage into the half.
They didn’t just maintain, but extended that advantage to 12 points, 66-54, heading into the fourth. Whenever Puerto Rico threatened a run, Canada responded. In the fourth, as Puerto Rico pushed the pace and forced a series of turnovers resulting in easy buckets, Canada dug in to close out the game.
Leading by five with 5:46 remaining, Mikkel Tyne found Bubu Benjamin for a corner three. An offensive rebound and putback from David Simon as well as a block on the other end from Simon extended the lead. After free throws from Benjamin and a dunk from Michael Nwoko, Canada’s lead was back to double figures with 2:24 remaining. They closed out the win from there.
Canada shot 42 percent for the game, including 30 percent from three, making 10-of-33 attempts from deep. Puerto Rico finished the game shooting 44 percent, but had just three three-pointers in the game, shooting 3-for-14 from beyond the arc.
After starting out by making their presence felt inside, Canada finished with nine blocks in the game. Simon led everyone with a game-high four blocked shots to go with eight rebounds in 15 minutes of action.