Venezuela celebrate their victory over Canada at the FIBA Americas Championship ©FIBA

Venezuela set-up an all South American final with Argentina at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americas Championships in Mexico City, edging Canada by the narrowest of one-point margins,

In a match billed as a David versus Goliath contest, Venezuela took an early lead 15-13 and, with their strong defence to the fore, they refused to surrender the initiative, despite being unable to open clear daylight.

After edging the first quarter 20-19, Canada briefly took the lead in the second before trailing 31-29 at the interval.

Canada threw everything at their opponents in the third to eek out a two-point lead, but as a topsy-turvy encounter that continued to swing each way, it was Venezuela who had the final say as Heissler Guillent scored a decisive free-throw to wrap-up an historic 79-78 victory.

"This is a success of God and these players that I enjoy," said Venezuelan head coach Nestor Garcia.

"There was inspiration, commitment, soul and a lot of things that are not only a basketball. It is very difficult to tell something that is truly historic for an entire country.

"I have been a long time away from home and ultimately it was for this, the message was that 40 minutes was nothing against Canada when we have three years of changing the way we play.”

Argentina overcame hosts Mexico in the second semi-final ©AFP/Getty Images
Argentina overcame hosts Mexico in the second semi-final ©AFP/Getty Images

The South Americans will now play at the Olympic Games for just the second occasion.

Their last appearance was at Barcelona in 1992. 

Argentina, meanwhile, will look to repeat their gold medal winning exploits at Athens 2004 after silencing the home crowd by getting the better of hosts Mexico with a 78-70 victory.

Combining a brutal defence with their well-known offensive structure, Luis Socla led the way with 18 points to surpass Oscar Smith as the leading scorer in the history of the FIBA Americas Championship, with 1.292 points.

They will now be heavy favourites in tomorrow's final, although will be wary of the Venezuelans continuing their giant-killing streak.

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