Brazil bounces back to beat Italy in GLOBL JAM men’s play

Danielle Michaud and Sherman Hamilton discuss Brazil team captain Yago dos Santos and the impact he's had on the team's success against Italy.

TORONTO — Yago Dos Santos scored a game-high 28 points to lead Brazil to a 72-68 victory over Italy at the men’s GLOBL JAM tournament Wednesday at Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Dos Santos followed up a 20-point showing in Brazil’s 89-75 defeat to Canada on Tuesday evening with another strong showing as he went 8-for-16 from the floor, including 4-for-7 from deep and 8-for-9 from the free-throw line.

“Yago is just a tremendous player,” said Brazilian head coach Tiago Splitter, the former seven-year NBA veteran, after the game. “He’s one of the most courageous guys that I’ve ever met and he’s, I dunno, (five-foot-three) or something like that, and I love that kid.

“He’s doing a great job in our league in Brazil, great job on the national team and here, at the under-23, he’s got a chance to be the guy on the team. So, I’m super happy for him.”

Frederico Zampini led Italy with 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field.

Both Brazil and Italy are 1-1 to begin the tournament — Italy picked up an 88-77 victory over the United States on Tuesday.

“It was a huge experience for us, for me as a coach, for our guys because in Italy when they finish the youth department and they get into the professional clubs it’s not easy for them to have important minutes, to have important roles on the team,” said Italy coach Marco Ramondino of the value gleaned from Tuesday’s game despite the loss. “It’s important to experience what it takes to be competitive at the international level.”

As the fourth quarter began, Italy led 51-49. That small lead would be reversed as Joao Marcello Pereira knocked down a three-pointer in the right corner to push Brazil ahead 53-51. A few minutes later, Brazil got out to a 60-54 lead, punctuated by a Dikembe Andre two-handed dunk in transition.

Italy wouldn’t go away, however. Guglielmo Caruso managed to draw a foul and converted both free throws to pull Italy to within two with 4:18 to play. A straightaway three-pointer from Dos Santos with 3:12 left put Brazil back up 63-58, but the Italians just kept coming, tying the game at 65-65 with 56 seconds left on a Zampini layup.

Italy’s celebration wouldn’t last for long, though, as Brazil took a timeout and set up a play for a wide-open Reynan Dos Santos — no relation to Yago — three-pointer to put Brazil back up 68-65. The Brazilians would keep that lead for good.

“We knew that Yago was having a great game and they were focused on him. So, I told our shooters, ‘Hey, be ready,’” said Splitter of the play that freed Reynan up.

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Yago got off to a hot start, scoring nine of Brazil’s first 11 points on his way to a monstrous 15-point opening-period performance. He showed off his three-point stroke and killer quickness and handle getting into the paint to help his team jump out to a 22-13 first-quarter advantage.

Italy opened the second quarter on a 9-4 spurt, doing a lot of its damage at the free-throw line, cutting into Brazil’s lead to trail only 26-22. A strong take from Brazil’s Jonas Buffat led to a three-point play and sparked an 8-1 run for Brazil to help it carry a 38-31 lead into halftime.

Buoyed by a 10-0 run to begin the third quarter, Italy took a 41-38 lead that would quickly be answered by a Yago three-pointer to tie the game up at 41-41 with 6:32 left in the quarter. The rest of the period proved to be a back-and-forth affair, with both sides trading baskets and stops in nearly equal measure, setting the stage for the exciting fourth quarter.

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“This was my first time being a head coach of a team and it was a very special (moment) for me. I don’t think I’m ever going to forget this,” said Splitter. “It was my first W as a head coach and, hopefully, there are many more to come.”

GLOBL JAM is a first-of-its-kind under-23 international basketball tournament hosted by Canada Basketball.

Participating countries in the men’s tournament include the host Canadians, Brazil, Italy and the United States.

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