RECIFE, Brazil (Sept. 10, 2022) - The Canadian Senior Men’s National Team fell 86-76 to tournament-host Brazil in the FIBA AmeriCup 2022 Semifinals on Saturday.
Leonardo Meindl led Brazil with 19 points, while Lucas Dias added 14 points and eight rebounds for a Brazil team that advanced to Sunday’s gold medal game with the victory.
Jahvon Henry-Blair had a game-high 24 points for Canada, while Dalano Banton added 12 points and Abu Kigab added 10 in the loss. Canada shot 40 percent to Brazil’s 46 percent in the game and were outrebounded 47-28, including 17-9 on the offensive glass.
Despite the loss, it has been a rewarding journey for Team Canada at the AmeriCup. The team has shown growth with each game, despite their youth.
“It means a lot,” Team Canada head coach Nathaniel Mitchell said. “It’s my first time head coaching and to have a team like this that plays so hard, an opportunity to represent my country, I can't say enough.”
After falling behind by 13 at the end of the third quarter, Canada opened the fourth on an 8-0 run. Thomas Kennedy tied the game on a pair of free throws and then gave Canada a two-point lead with a layup, but Brazil came roaring back while holding Canada scoreless over the final 3:19 of the game.
Free throws for Yago Santos tied the game and then a layup from Meindl put Brazil in front by two with 2:55 remaining. Marcelinho Huertas extended Brazil’s lead to four points after making a pair of free throws with 1:36 remaining.
Dias punctuated the lead with a slam for Brazil as Canada called timeout, trailing by six with 35 seconds remaining before Meindl sealed the game at the free throw line.
Brazil closed each of the first three quarters well, controlling the offensive glass to get extra attempts and converting their offensive putbacks to extend the lead.
Canada bounced back from a hot-shooting opening quarter for Brazil to trail by just four after the opening 10 minutes as they played in front of a packed crowd loudly cheering on their home team.
Lucas Mariano scored on a layup to open the second quarter scoring and extend Brazil’s lead to six until Banton connected on a pair of free throws to bring Canada back within four. A pull-up three pointer from Kadre Gray brought Canada within a point and then Banton found Henry-Blair for the layup, forcing Brazil into a timeout as they trailed 27-26 with 7:29 remaining in the half.
Brazil used an 8-0 run out of the timeout to take a 34-27 lead midway through the quarter. A layup from Canada's Lloyd Pandi snapped Brazil’s run, but then Cristiano Felicio and Pandi traded baskets before Pandi assisted on a three for Kigab to get Canada within four with 2:06 remaining in the half.
Back-to-back scores for Brazil forced Canada into a timeout with 40 seconds remaining in the quarter, but Brazil closed the half as they closed the opening quarter, with an offensive rebound and putback to extend their advantage to 10 points at the break.
After getting within five points midway through the third, Brazil regained its halftime lead until a pair of free throws from Gray brought Canada within single digits with 2:38 remaining. Pandi then stole the ball and drove in for a layup to make it a seven-point game with 2:16 remaining. After a free throw from Pandi, Canada was within eight, but then Santos went to work. A drive from Santos made it a 10-point lead with 37 seconds remaining and then Santos scored on a step-back three to extend the advantage to 13 points heading into the fourth.
“I think you don’t get these opportunities [very often], and then guys like this who come out and play so hard, you just want them to win so badly for them to feel the opportunity to represent their country and to win a medal,” Mitchell said. “Even with this [loss], against a good team, we’re going to wipe it from our memory and try to figure out how to win tomorrow and leave here with a medal. That’s the only focus I have right now. My team, my players, my staff, giving me the amount of confidence to be able to represent the country, it’s an unbelievable honour.”
The Canadians will play in the bronze medal game against the United States on Sunday at 4:10 p.m. ET.