USA Men’s AmeriCup Qualifying Team Earns Second-Straight Win Over Puerto Rico
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The USA men (2-0) topped Puerto Rico (0-2) 95-73 to cap off play in the first window of FIBA AmeriCup Qualifying action on Sunday afternoon at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C.
Kyle Fogg (Beijing Royal Fighters/Arizona) led the USA with 18 points and a game-high eight assists; Justin Anderson (Long Island Nets/Virginia) finished with 17 points and seven rebounds; Jalen Jones (Capital City Go-Go/Texas A&M) added 14 points; Josh Magette (Lakeland Magic/Alabama-Huntsville) had 11 points; and Eric Mika (Stockton Kings/BYU) tallied 10 points.
The U.S. limited Puerto Rico to 37.7% shooting from the field (23-61 FGs) and, led by 10 rebounds from James Webb III (Iowa Wolves/Boise State), outrebounded Puerto Rico 47 to 36.
“I was very proud of the (USA’s) performance,” said USA head coach Mike Fratello. “Puerto Rico came out very tough, very determined, but we wanted to try and finish what our mission was, and that was to go play two games against Puerto Rio and try to win both of them.
“I thought after the second half of the last game, Puerto Rico did such a good defensive job that our guys wanted to make some adjustments. So we tinkered with a few things, and by doing that it made us able to pass the ball easier. It took a little bit of pressure off of our point guards, and we were able to move the ball. The ball was moved magnificently by our people.”
The USA beat Puerto Rico 83-70 on Feb. 20 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Anderson scored the first points of the game – a 3-pointer – and then added six more in the first quarter. The USA came out strong, and after leading 14-7, rode a 9-0 run to a 23-7 advantage. The quarter ended with the USA, which shot 52.5% (10-19 FGs), up 26-11.
The squads traded runs to start the second quarter – with Puerto Rico scoring the first six points of the period, followed by eight-straight from the USA to make it 34-17 at 6:17. Puerto Rico narrowed the gap to 14 points, 41-27 with 2:09 on the clock, but the USA pushed the margin to 21 points, 50-29, at halftime.
The third quarter saw the USA improve its lead to 29 points, its widest margin of the game, midway through the period, but it was a 25-point margin, 71-46, headed into the fourth quarter. Fogg scored nine points in the stanza.
The fourth quarter saw Puerto Rico outscore the USA 27-24 to bring the game to its 95-73 final.
“The toughest thing we did was to respond like we did and play the way we played in Puerto Rico and not get too high on our ourselves,” Anderson said. “I think we did a really good job of coming together, and we were locked in from the jump. We knew that Puerto Rico was going to come out with a lot of intensity, so as far as how we played, Coach emphasized a couple of things. He gave us a comparison in our meetings about rebounding and assists. Well, today it looks like we won both of those battles, and as a team if we can do that time in and time out with our athleticism, with our talent and our ability to share the ball, rebound the ball, we’re a tough team to beat, and I think we did a really good job of displaying that as a collective group.”
While the USA shot 44.4% from deep (16-36 3pt FGs), Puerto Rico was limited to just 25.0% from 3-point (6-of-24 3pt FGs).
The USA’s assistant coaches for the first window were longtime NBA and college assistant coach Andy Greer and former NBA and USA Basketball athlete Othella Harrington.
The 2020-21 FIBA AmeriCup Qualifying Tournament features 16 teams from the Americas zone, divided into four groups of four teams. The top three finishing teams in each group will earn a berth into the FIBA AmeriCup 2021.
The USA will play in two more windows of the qualifying tournament. The second window will see the USA host two games at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C., versus the Bahamas on Nov. 27 and against Mexico on Nov. 30. The third and final window will feature the USA at the Bahamas on Feb. 18 and at Mexico on Feb. 21.
Eight of the 16 teams participating in the FIBA AmeriCup Qualifying Tournament play their second game of the first window on Feb. 23. With two games completed, the USA is 2-0, Argentina is 1-1, Venezuela is 1-1 and Puerto Rico is 0-2. Still to come this evening, Colombia (1-0) will play Chile (0-1) at 7 p.m. EST; and Bahamas (0-1) will meet Mexico (1-0) at 8 p.m. EST.
The remaining eight teams will play on Feb. 24. Paraguay (0-1) will take on Panama (1-0); Uruguay (0-1) will meet Brazil (1-0); U.S. Virgin Islands (1-0) plays Cuba (0-1); and Dominican Republic (0-1) meets Canada (1-0).