USA claim top of Group D; Canada, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico prevailed

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MIAMI (United States) – This Sunday, in the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup 2023 Americas Qualifiers, Groups C and D ended their second window. USA, Canada, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico picked up victories. Here’s how the day unfolded:

USA 89 – 67 Mexico

With excellent defense, a fast pace and even better ball movement, the United States avenged their November loss to Mexico with an emphatic 89-67 Sunday afternoon at the Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, D.C.

A George King three-point buzzer beater at the end of the first quarter gave the Americans their first double-digit lead and they never looked back, expanding it to as many as 31 in the fourth quarter before a late-game run from the visiting team. The formula was as simple as it was effective, with Jim Boylan’s squad pushing the pace (22-2 edge on fast-break points) and swinging the ball, generating open looks (and 23 assists) that the team’s sharpshooters capitalized to the tune of 15 three-pointers. Matthew Ryan (12 points on 4/10 from beyond the arc) was once again instrumental in punishing the Mexican defense. He was one of five different Americans scoring in double digits.

Mexico battled throughout the contest but couldn’t get it going in the offensive end despite taking care of the ball (just 12 turnovers). Forward Fabián Jaimes led the way with an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double and, alongside center Daniel Amigo (nine points, seven rebounds) helped Mexico to a 32-22 advantage in points in the paint. However, Omar Quintero’s guys couldn’t back them up from the perimeter, as evidenced by the icy 7/28 on three-point attempts. Orlando Mendez had nine points and five assists and Gabriel Girón and Yahir Bonilla added nine points apiece.

But Team USA was just deeper and more talented, with former NBA star Joe Johnson going off for 14 points, five rebounds and four assists and Langston Galloway pouring in an efficient 16 on 6/9 from the field, including 3 three-pointers. Jordan Bell had a well-rounded game on both ends (nine points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block), and David Stockton (15) and Justin Wright-Foreman (10) were the others scoring in double-digits.

Canada 96 – 46 Virgin Islands

Looking to stay undefeated in Group C, Canada once again hopped out to a strong start thanks to 10 points from Kyle Wiltjer in the first quarter. But they allowed Virgin Islands to creep back as Rakeem Christmas led their offense with 6 points and 4 rebounds. Canada then managed to find endurance as six different Canadians found the rim to end the quarter and lead comfortably 27-14.

Canada used the momentum from the end of the first quarter to continue their dominance and held their opponent to just seven points in the quarter while Thomas Scrubb controlled Canada’s scoring game and tallied 11 points by the half. Canada held Christmas to just two points despite not being able to control him on the defensive boards. This time Kyle Alexander, who had fouled out the previous game, kept calm on the defensive end for Canada.

Canada dominated the third and fourth quarters, holding Virgin Islands to just nine points in the third. Virgin Islands did catch second wind in the final minutes of play netting 16 points to close out the game. However Virgin Islands could not keep up defensively, committing fouls and turnovers and losing battles on the boards. Canada shot 50 percent from all areas of the floor, and therefore stayed perfect in Group C.

Four Canadians scored over 11 points in the win with Wiltjer finishing with 24 points on 61 percent shooting and Trae Bell-Haynes finishing with 13 points including 10 in the final quarter. Christmas finished the game with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds while Richards added 13 points.

Bahamas 65 – 90 Dominican Republic

After waking up from a sluggish first quarter on Sunday evening’s contest at the Palacio de los Deportes in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic romped to an emphatic 90-65 victory over Bahamas and punched their ticket to the Second Round of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Americas Qualifiers.

Earlier in the day, Canada has defeated the Virgin Islands, putting the Melvyn López’s squad in a position to advance with a win at home. And they did in thunderous fashion, erasing a five-point deficit at the end of the first quarter and cruising to a blowout victory thanks to impressive ball movement (28 assists), powerful interior scoring (32 points in the paint) and a steady long-range attack (15 three pointers). The frontcourt duo of Ángel Delgado (14 points and 16 rebounds) and Eloy Vargas (11 points and eight boards) dominated inside, with Andrés Feliz coming off the bench and shooting a torrid 7/9 from beyond the arc to keep the Bahamian defense guessing.

Bahamas had jumped to an early lead in the first quarter behind the all-around playmaking of Travis Munnings and Tavario Miller’s scoring punch, but turnovers (18) and poor outside shooting (5/23 from downtown) ended up sinking their chances of pulling the upset. Munnings finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Miller (14 points), Danrad Knowles (12) and Mychel Thompson (10) also scored in double digits.

Any glimmer of hope for Bahamas was obliterated early in the fourth quarter when Rigoberto Mendoza came in and connected on three consecutive three-pointers. The veteran guard finished with 15 points on 5/7 from beyond the arc and was one of five different Dominican players scoring in double digits. Feliz led the way with 25, while Víctor Liz added 11.

Cuba 62 – 65 Puerto Rico

With Group D shaping up to be one of the hardest groups to play in, every win matters with teams like Mexico, USA, Puerto Rico, and Cuba battling it out. Cuba was looking for their first victory in the group while Puerto Rico tried to improve their record to 2-2.

Right out of the gate Cuba looked hungry for their first win, taking the lead over Puerto Rico which they would hang onto for the entirety of the first half. Cuba was winning battles on both the offensive and defensive boards, causing Puerto Rico to make mistakes. Most notably, Cuba’s entire bench rotation made an impact on the floor as they led 36-31 at halftime.

Coming out of the half, Puerto Rico knew that they had to play their best quarter of basketball yet, and they buckled down defensively keeping Cuba to just 11 points – their lowest quarter of the game – while scoring 21 themselves. Christopher Ortiz tipped in 14 points by the end of the third quarter while Jezreel De Jesus scored 13 more. Jasiel Rivero managed to tally 11 points by the end of the third but was the only Cuban player in double digits, diminishing their lead and now trailing by five entering the final ten minutes of play.

A nail-biter fourth quarter saw Cuba fight back to try and reclaim the lead, Puerto Rico led by just two points with twenty seconds to go and managed to hang on for the 65-62 win with a final foul shot giving them insurance. Puerto Rico improved to 2-2 in Group D, while Cuba is still yet to find a win in a tough group. Rivero led Cuba in scoring with 13 points on 50 percent shooting and Marcos Chacon added 11 points while De Jesus led all scorers finishing with 21 points including eight in the fourth quarter.