NOVEMBER 2021 FIBA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
Chihuahua, Mexico • November 28-29, 2021
Outscoring an upset minded Cuba 11-6 over the game's final 3:40, the USA opened 2021-23 FIBA Americas World Cup Qualifying play with a hard-fought 95-90 victory over Cuba on Nov. 29 in Chihuahua, Mexico.
NOVEMBER 2021 USA RESULTS (1-1)
Two-time NBA All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas finished with a USA high 21 points, including a critical 3-pointer with 13.3 seconds remaining in the game, to help seal the USA victory. BJ Johnson added 16 points on 4-of-7 3-point shooting, Brian Bowen II contributed 16 points and added a team-best nine rebounds, while Justin Anderson scored 10 points.
“It was a great game, it was a tough game for us. We didn't play perfect but we got the win and that's the ultimate goal, and we're just gonna learn from tonight,” said Thomas. “You know we just stayed at it, we just stayed the course in the game, we stuck to.”
The USA shot 49.3% from the field and 41.7% (15-36) from 3-point, but Cuba countered by making 51.4% of its shots from the field and 40.0% (10-25) from 3-point. The USA held a 42-33 advantage on the glass.
“Give Cuba a lot of credit. I thought they brought it to us, said USA head coach Jim Boylen. “They were ready to play. Their physicality matched with their skill level tonight. They shot the ball well, they moved the ball. I thought he made a couple great plays at the end. Not only the 3-point shot, but the drive baseline pitch is something that we've worked on for end of game,” said Boylen of Thomas’ critical 3-pointer.
Falling behind 10-3, the Americans led 22-21 following a 3-pointer from Bowen, but Cuba ended the first quarter with a 16-5 run to take a 37-27 lead into the second quarter. The USA opened the second stanza with a 14-4 run to even the score 41 all. Leading 52-51 late into the second quarter, the U.S., following back-to-back 3-pointers from Zavier Simpson and Bowen, and a Will Davis II jumper, went to locker room ahead 60-53.
Cuba outscored the Americans 24-13 in the third quarter and led 77-73 heading in the game’s final 10 minutes. Cuba’s lead grew to 80-73, but 3-pointers from Bowen and Thomas, were followed by a Thomas traditional three-point play, and the USA was back in front 82-80. Holding a narrow one-point advantage, 85-84, Johnson drained his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 2:44 remaining to lift the USA lead to 88-84. Cuba made it 88-86 with 1:14 to play, but Thomas sank a short floater in the lane to push the USA in front 90-86 with 55 seconds left.
Cuba’s Jasiel Rivero, who tallied a game-high 34 points, made it a two point game once again after scoring with 34 seconds to play. However, Thomas answered one final time for the USA, draining a 3-pointer with 13.3 seconds left. Rivero scored off an offensive rebounds with 6.3 seconds to go, leaving the score 93-90. Johnson was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass and sank both free throw tries with 5.2 seconds left to seal the victory.
The USA could not overcome a 31-12 third-quarter surge from Mexico, and the USA lost to the host country 97-88 on Nov. 29 in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Mexico shot 17-of-35 from 3-point in the game, including a game-high 27 points from Orlando Mendez, who shot 7-of-11 from behind the arc. The USA, which shot 73.3% in the first half (22-30 FGs), cooled off to just 31.0% from the field during the second half (9-29 FGs) and committed 14 turnovers compared to Mexico’s five turnovers.
“Well, you got to give Mexico credit,” said Boylen. “Obviously, they made shots. They made big plays when they needed it. I thought we fought. I thought we tried. But we didn't have enough defense when we needed it, and that's because of their offense and their shooting.
“We struggled coming out of the half. I thought it was a combination of them (Mexico) executing and making shots and us turning the ball over.”
Thomas was the USA’s leading scorer with 21 points and a U.S.-best 10 assists, but Thomas was forced to leave the game at 6:18 in the fourth quarter after picking up his second technical foul. The USA trailed 82-76 at that point.
The USA worked its way back within three points, 84-81 at 5:03 remaining in the game, but that was as close as the USA would get. The USA’s shooting did not improve, and while Mexico shot 7-of-8 from the free throw line down the stretch the USA managed just 4-of-10 from the charity stripe.
Johnson finished the game with had 15 points; and Harrison and Luke Kornet each contributed 12 points.
Mexico led 17-15 with 3:37 to play in the opening quarter, but the USA went on a 11-4 scoring run to finish off the first 10 minutes ahead 28-21. Mexico came as close as two points, 30-28 at 8:31 in the second quarter after a 3-pointer, but Haywood Highsmith reeled off seven points for the USA, including one basket from deep, and the USA led 37-28 at 6:57. The teams traded baskets, before the USA put together a 10-2 run to lead by 13 points, 55-42 with 47.5 seconds remaining in the period. Mexico, however, made two 3s in the finals 1:25 of the stanza, including a halftime buzzer-beater that made the score 57-48 at the midway point.
The USA scored first in the third quarter, but Mexico made its first of six 3-pointers in the third quarter to launch its game-changing run. Mexico tied the score 64-64 at 5:58 and then outscored the USA 15-5 to head into the final period with a 79-69 margin.
While the USA outrebounded Mexico 39-34, Mexico got 12 offensive boards that resulted in 16 second-chance points, and Mexico also had the edge in points off of turnovers, scoring 15 to the USA’s nine.
NOVEMBER 2021 USA MEN'S WORLD CUP QUALIFYING TEAM ROSTER
|NAME||POS||HGT||WGT||AGE||G LEAGUE TEAM/SCHOOL||HOMETOWN|
|Justin Anderson||F||6-6||230||28||Fort Wayne Mad Ants/Virginia
|Brian Bowen II||G/F||6-6||190||23||Iowa Wolves/N/A
|Will Davis II||F||6-8||220||29||Regatas Corrientes (Argentina)/UC-Irvine
|Josh Gray||G||6-0||180||28||Long Island Nets/LSU
||LAke Charles, LA|
|Shaq Harrison||G||6-7||190||28||Delaware Blue Coats/Tulsa
||Kansas City, MO|
|Haywood Highsmith||F||6-7||220||24||Delaware Blue Coats/Wheeler
|BJ Johnson||F||6-7||200||25||Lakeland Magic/LaSalle
|Luke Kornet||C||7-2||250||26||Maine Celtic/Vanderbilt
||Rock Island, IL|
|Zavier Simpson||G||6-0||190||24||Oklahoma City Blue/Michigan||Lima, OH|
|Emanuel Terry||C||6-9||220||25||Stockton Kings/Lincoln Memorial
|Isaiah Thomas||G||5-9||185||32||Free Agent/Washington||Tacoma, WA|
|Head Coach: Jim Boylen|
|Assistant Coach: Ty Ellis|
|Assistant Coach: Othella Harrington|
|Team Physician: Stephen Foley, Sanford Health (Sioux Falls, SD)|
|Athletic Trainer: Ed Lacerte, ProSports Therapy, Inc. (Waltham and Westford, MA)|
|Team Scout: Brandon Bailey|
|Video Coordinator: Cole Miller|
NOVEMBER 2021 USA MEN'S WORLD CUP QUALIFYING TEAM CUMULATIVE STATISTICS
|Thomas||2/2||14- 31||.452||7- 17||.412||7- 9||.777||2/ 1.0||42/ 21.0||13||0||1|
|Johnson||2/2||11- 22||.500||6- 11||.545||3- 4||.775||7/ 3.5||31/ 15.5||3||0||1|
|Harrison||2/2||8- 14||.571||0- 3||.000||5- 9||.555||13/ 6.5||21/ 10.5||4||0||3|
|Bowen||2/0||7- 13||.538||4- 9||.444||2- 3||.667||13/ 6.5||20/ 10.0||2||4||1|
|Kornet||2/2||6- 9||.667||0- 1||.000||4- 6||.667||12/ 6.0||16/ 8.0||3||2||0|
|Anderson||2/2||6- 13||.462||1- 5||.200||3- 3||1.000||11/ 5.5||16/ 8.0||1||1||0|
|Highsmith||2/0||5- 9||.556||2- 4||.500||0- 0||.---||5/ 2.5||12/ 6.0||3||0||0|
|Simpson||2/0||3- 5||.600||1- 2||.500||4- 5||.800||3/ 1.5||11/ 5.5||9||0||0|
|Randle||2/0||2- 7||.286||1- 5||.200||0- 0||.---||0/ 0.0||5/ 2.5||2||0||0|
|Terry||2/0||2- 2||1.000||0- 0||.---||0- 0||.---||4/ 2.0||4/ 2.0||3||0||1|
|Davis||1/0||2- 3||.667||0- 0||.---||0- 2||.000||4/ 2.0||4/ 4.0||2||0||0|
|Gray||2/0||0- 2||.000||0- 0||.---||1- 2||.500||1/ 0.5||1/ 0.5||2||0||1|
|USA||2||66-130||.508||22- 57||.386||29- 43||.67||81/40.5||183/91.5||47||7||8|
|OPP.||2||71-147||.483||27- 60||.450||18- 27||.66||67/33.5||187/93.5||57||0||18|