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Mexico put one foot in Barcelona

GRAN CANARIA (FIBA Basketball World Cup) - It shaped up to be a tense game between two teams desperate to book a trip to Barcelona, but Mexico had other ideas.

After leading Angola by just one point at half-time, 36-35, the FIBA Americas champions put on a 43-20 clinic to claim their first win, 79-55, and put one foot into the knockout rounds in the Catalan capital.

In fact this was Mexico's first victory in FIBA's flagship event in more than 40 years, since an 85-84 win over Australia at the 1974 edition of the tournament.

"I'm very happy to win this game, it was a team effort and we were together every moment of the game," said centre Gustavo Ayon.

In contrast to their losses to Lithuania and Slovenia, the Mexicans played a selfless brand of team basketball from the first minute to the last.

"It was really different to the last two games. Those games it was just one dribble and then a shot, one-on-one and not moving the ball," said Ayon.

Today we had very good movement of the ball and we got very good shots. - Ayon

Ayon's statline of 17 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals was impressive enough, but he was also the driver of their exquisite ball movement.

With the Angolans doubling the 29-year-old in the low post, Ayon did an outstanding job of finding the open man.

From there the Mexicans picked apart their scrambling opponents, Hector Hernandez the main beneficiary with 24 points on 6-of-10 shooting from long range.

"We were able to create open shots so our good shooters could shoot well, and that's why our attack changed," said coach Sergio Valdeolmillos.

"Against Lithuania and Slovenia we shot such a low percentage and it made it very hard for us.

"What makes us a good team is when we pass the ball to get open shots, and our players can put the ball on the court also, and that makes it easy for us."

Next up is Australia, where a win would give Mexico a chance of finishing third in Group D, avoiding a likely Round of 16 clash with the USA.

Ayon has plenty of respect for the Boomers, but he carries the belief that's been obvious in this Mexican team since last season's surprise title run in Caracas.

"They are a good team, they play hard," he said.

"We were confident for the last two games and for this game and it will be the same (tomorrow)."