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USA vs. Puerto Rico - Things To Know

  • Date:
    Feb 26, 2018

The 3-0 USA Basketball Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team squares off against 2-1 Puerto Rico at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, California, on Monday at 11 p.m. EST in an ESPN2 televised game. Here are the things to know about the matchup:



Coach Van Gundy's Overview Of Puerto Rico


"They outplayed us (in the first meeting on Nov. 23, 2017). They dominated the game for the most part. We had some guys make some huge plays down the stretch. Xavier Munford, Reggie Hearn and Jameel Warney, they came up huge, but Angel Rodriguez dominated the game. They knew us better than we knew them and that was my fault. They had great continuity. They bring incredible passion and physicality to the game. So, the challenge is real and it’s going to be an electric atmosphere for our players and for their players. We’re going to have to play very, very well."


On Having Guys Get Called Up And Having To Replace Them For These Games

"That’s unusual, right? So, we had Trey McKinney Jones get called up after our first meeting. We’re happy for him. And then Marcus Thornton just the other day, really happy for him. Not as happy for the circumstances there. I thought those circumstances, if everyone is saying that this is important, then we have to reevaluate losing guys a day before the competition. But I’m happy for Marcus, really happy, (he’s a) good player. But I do have ultimate respect for the G League coaches and the players. Because I don’t think mentally you know what they go through, how they keep hope and the grit and the perseverance it takes to continue on. Sometimes you think that you’re getting nowhere. That’s why I admire guys like Xavier (Silas), they’ve been in this for a long time. They’re good enough to be on an NBA roster. Why they’re not is anybody’s guess. It’s just a limited player pool. But I love his approach, I love his passion. He’s got every intangible characteristic that you need. And that’s what has drawn me to these guys. It’s really been a remarkable experience in that way for me."


USA 84, Cuba 48

Behind 14 points from Rodney Purvis and 13 points from Xavier Silas, the USA manhandled Cuba 84-48 Friday night in FIBA World Cup Qualifying first-round action at the Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, California. The game was a rout from the start, with the USA holding Cuba scoreless for the first 4:40 while building a 15-0 lead. Overall, the U.S. defense held Cuba to just 25.0 percent from the field (16-64 FGs) and forced 19 turnovers, while its offense got 44 points from the bench and recorded 28 fast break points. Also scoring in double-digits for the USA, David Stockton scored 10 to go with three assists and Devin Williams tallied eight points and game-highs of 12 rebounds and six assists.


First-Time Around - USA 85, Puerto Rico 78


The USA, on Nov. 23, 2017, earned its first FIBA World Cup Qualifying win after recording an 85-78 victory over Puerto Rico in the two teams' opening game of FIBA World Cup Qualifying first-round play at the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena in Orlando. The USA received a double-double of 17 points and a game-high 11 rebounds from 2017 AmeriCup MVP Jameel Warney and 17 points and eight rebounds from USA AmeriCup gold medalist Reggie Hearn. Angel Vassallo led Puerto Rico's scoring with 16 points. The U.S. took a 61-58 lead into the game’s final 10 minutes, but Puerto Rico battled back to even the score 63-63. The U.S. finally managed to create some breathing space as Semaj Christon and Xavier Munford each scored five points in a 10-2 USA run that lifted the red, white and blue to a 73-65 lead with 5:21 left in the game. Puerto Rico never again got closer than four points as the USA held-off Puerto Rico for the 85-78 win.



The Continuation Of Something New

An entirely new process for not only the USA, but the rest of the world, the FIBA World Cup Qualifying will determine the national teams that advance to the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The first competition window of the first round was held Nov. 23-27 and the USA won games against Americas Zone first-round Group C opponents Puerto Rico and Mexico.

The second competition window of the first-round is being held Feb. 22-26, 2018, and in the third and final first-round window of FIBA World Cup Qualifying, the USA will play two away games, at Mexico on June 28, 2018, and at Cuba on July 1, 2018. After completion of the first round, the top three finishing teams in each of the four, Americas first-round groups advance to the second round. The three advancing teams from Group A and Group C will form Group E, while the top three finishers from Group B and Group D will form Group F.  The three second-round windows of competition will take place Sept. 13-17, 2018; Nov. 29-Dec. 3, 2018; and Feb. 21-25, 2019.

Following completion of the Americas second-round games, seven teams will qualify out of the zone for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, including the top three finishing teams from second-round Group E and Group F, and the best fourth placed team between Group E and Group F.

Under FIBA’s new competition system, a total of 80 national teams from FIBA’s four regions of Africa, Americas, Asia (which now includes Oceania) and Europe are competing in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers over 15 months looking to earn a qualifying berth in the 32-team 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup competition that will be held Aug. 31-Sept. 15 in China.

For more information on the new World Cup Qualifying process, check out our crash course here: WCQ Crash Course.


Van Gundy Looks To Continue Winning Form

Jeff Van Gundy, who serves as an NBA color commentator for ESPN when he’s not on the USA sideline, has compiled a 8-0 record while head coach of USA teams. This past Aug. 25-Sept. 3, Van Gundy served as the head coach for the gold-medal winning USA AmeriCup Team, which defeated Argentina 81-76 in Cordoba, Argentina, on Sept. 3, with a furious second-half comeback. Van Gundy’s team of NBA G League players won two true road games during AmeriCup 2017 – in Argentina and another in Uruguay – en route to an unblemished 5-0 record.

During the USA’s first competition window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifying first-round (Nov. 23-27), Van Gundy led the USA to two wins, 85-78 over Puerto Rico and 91-55 versus Mexico. Most recently, the Americans defeated Cuba 84-48 on Feb. 23


Two Are Back In The Mix

Not only is Van Gundy and USA assistant coaches Mo McHone and John Thompson back with USA Basketball, but so are two players from the USA World Cup Qualifying November squad, including Larry Drew II (Sioux Falls Skyforce) and Travis Wear (South Bay Lakers).


Plenty Of History

Owning a 53-9 all-time record versus Puerto Rico, the USA and Puerto Rico last played on Nov. 23, 2017, in a World Cup Qualifying first-round game that the USA won 85-78. The U.S. is 5-1 all-time against Puerto Rico in Olympic games, suffering its lone loss to Puerto Rico in the 2004 Olympics. The American men are also 8-1 in FIBA World Cup games and 10-2 in FIBA Americas Championships contests. The USA defeated Puerto Rico 111-100 in the 2006 World Championship.


Game Information

Tickets for the USA-Puerto Rico game are available by calling (831) 713-4400 or online at

The game is being broadcast live on ESPN2. ESPN play-by-play commentator Marc Kestecher will have the call with analyst P.J. Carlesimo. 





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