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Jose Neto: ''They make me proud''
SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico) – Changing the story after the 2017 edition, Brazil used their powerful game near the paint to defeat Puerto Rico, 95-66, and grasp the bronze medal of the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2019 held at San Juan's Roberto Clemente Coliseum.
Before this night's encounter, Brazil had defeated Puerto Rico in five of their six clashes at the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup, although Puerto Rico had won their last to take home the bronze medal. On Sunday, however, Brazil used an overpowering defense and team game to leave the other side gasping for air before the half time, losing 44-33.
Brazil was effective in all facets of the game from the jump-start, dominating Puerto Rico in the rebounds, assists and making fewer mistakes. The Brazilians threw 57% in field goals and also 57% in three-point shots, where they achieved 12 of 21 attempts. Daimiris Dantas (28), Érika de Souza (16) and Tati Pacheco (15) scored 59 of Brazil’s 95 points.
“I think that we understand what Neto has gone through for us,” said Dantas after the win. “We went into today's game wanting to win no matter what. We knew we had to defend. Puerto Rico is playing at home. The girls wanted to win, so we played our basketball really hard.”
Starting in the first quarter, Dantas was an important presence for the Verdeamarelas from the get-go. The star player of the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx contributed nine rebounds and eight assists to her magnificent 28-point performance, including four three-pointers in six attempts.
For Brazil’s Head Coach, José Neto, this is an important victory in his first year as the head of the national women's team – a responsibility he tackles with great responsibility.
“I was always coaching men. I had the opportunity of coaching Brazil with women now, and the truth is that the motivation behind doing this is that they truly make me proud,” said Coach Neto in a press conference after the game. “That's why I took on the role now of coaching Brazil because coaching Brazil isn’t like coaching any other team. Coaching Brazil is a very serious responsibility and we have players here that understood this role really well.”
Neto started in Brazil's national men's program in 2005 and used this opportunity to also speak highly of the work done by the local team, even though he as surprised by the distance in the final score, which demonstrated Brazil’s absolute mastery of the game.
“I think we won this game with this score because we respect the way Puerto Rico plays,” said Neto. “When I started the process, that I played the first tournament, the Pan American (Games in Lima, 2019), I said that the team that I thought would be the toughest was Puerto Rico, because of the process led by a very good coach – Jerry (Batista). We played hard. If we wanted to win, we couldn't play like any other day.”
Neto relied on the inside game of his two centers, Dantas and veteran Érika de Souza – who came from the bench to play 21 minutes for Brazil and sign the scorebook with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“I see numbers here that impress me very much,” pointed out the Brazilian League’s Club Flamengo coach. “Thirty-four assists. I don’t see many of those in games, especially in women’s (basketball). Thirty-four assists are too many because they know that they want to play collectively, they want to play as a team. That's great for us because we're trying to create a new way of playing.”
Brazil will be in Group B in the next FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament held in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, where they will face the United States, Colombia, and Argentina in the month of November.