RECIFE, Brazil — Toronto Raptors guard Dalano Banton had 16 points and seven rebounds to lift Canada to an 82-77 victory over Mexico on Thursday and into the semifinals of the FIBA AmeriCup tournament.
Banton, a Toronto native, is making his Canadian team debut at the tournament, and is relishing the opportunity.
"For me just to be able to represent my country for the first time, I've always wanted to do that," said Banton, who became the first Canadian drafted by the Raptors, going 46th overall in 2021.
"Going in, being able to get a lot of game reps … playing against high-level competition is great, any time you can," he added. "Being able to push yourself, play with guys who trust me, who expect me to try to lead, it's a different role here and I'm accepting it and I'm playing it and hopefully we get to win our next two games."
Jahvon Henry-Blair had 14 points, while Lloyd Pandi chipped in with 11 and Trae Bell-Haynes added 10. Banton, who scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half, also had four rebounds and two steals.
"The advantage of having Dalano, this guy can play (four positions), being six foot nine kinda helps with his rebounding ability as well," said Nathaniel Mitchell, Canada's coach for the tournament and an assistant with the Raptors.
"(And Pandi) rebounds the ball, he makes tough plays, he grits it out. It really helps. Our guards are tough."
Daniel Amigo scored 20 points to top Mexico in a game that saw 13 lead changes.
The Canadians shot 54 per cent from the field to Mexico's 47 per cent. Canada's bench had a 26-5 edge over the Mexicans.
"I thought we did a good job in terms of putting pressure on the rim today," Mitchell said. "In the past I thought we settled for threes in transition and we made a consistent effort at getting to the rim and it really helped our offence."
The Canadian team faces either Brazil or the Dominican Republic in the semifinals on Saturday. The final is Sunday.
The AmeriCup isn't part of World Cup or Olympic qualifying.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2022.
The Canadian Press