USA Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team Races Past Cuba 84-48
The USA Basketball Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team (3-0) earned its third straight World Cup Qualifying victory with an 84-48 win over Cuba (0-3) in its first game of the second window of FIBA World Cup Qualifying first-round play on Friday night at 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 fastbreak points.
The USA will wrap up its second window of FIBA World Cup Qualifying competition versus Puerto Rico (2-1) at 8 p.m. (PST) on Monday, Feb. 26, also at Kaiser Permanente Arena, live on ESPN2. Tickets for the USA-Puerto Rico game are available by calling (831) 713-4400 or online at bit.ly/USABsantacruz.
“We’re happy with the win,” said USA head coach Jeff Van Gundy, who is now 8-0 as a USA head coach. “We also know that there is much improvement to be made if we’re to compete against Puerto Rico. But, I was really happy for Xavier (Silas), he played outstanding basketball. In my short time with him, he’s a tremendous pro, gets himself ready to play and it shows.”
Rodney Purvis led the USA in its win over Cuba with 14 points, Xavier Silas added 13, David Stockton scored 10 to go with three assists and Devin Williams tallied eight points and game-highs of 12 rebounds and six assists.
“I came out with a lot of intensity and just stuck with what the coaches were planning for the last seven, eight days, Williams said. “Just being who I am and the reason that I’m here, just continue to do that and take it to another level.”
After the USA’s hot start, Cuba sank a free throw for its first point in the game at 5:20 in the first, and then put together a 7-2 stretch to cut the deficit to 19-8. Stockton pulled up for a jumper with 2.3 seconds left in the first quarter, however, to give the USA a 21-8 lead at the first break.
The second quarter was the most evenly matched of the game, and the USA increased its lead by just four points after outscoring Cuba 20-16 to lead 41-24 at halftime.
At the midway point, Silas already had tallied 10 points for the USA, and Williams had seven rebounds and three assists.
“I think that we played hard, maybe not hard enough,” Silas said. “I think that we had some mistakes that we can definitely fix before the next game. It’s all about being relentless. We didn’t do that the entire time, but I think there were some moments where we did and that’s a start. So, we’re looking to come Monday with a little bit more effort and lock in a little bit more.”
The USA started the second half, much like the first half, and racked up 10 unanswered points in the first 4:11. But, Cuba’s Osmel Oliva his two straight 3s, and Van Gundy called a timeout at 5:09. After the break, the USA closed the third quarter by outscoring Cuba 11-6 to lead 62-36.
The USA continued to push its advantage through the end of the game, reaching its largest lead of 36 points at the game’s end as Stockton put up two points from the free throw line to end the game 84-48 win.