USA Men’s AmeriCup Qualifying Team Tops Bahamas 93-77
Led by 19 points apiece from James Nunnally (Free Agent/UC Santa Barbara) and Isaiah Thomas (Free Agent/Washington), the USA (5-0) recorded a 93-77 win over Bahamas (1-4) in FIBA AmeriCup Qualifying action on Friday evening in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The game was the USA’s fifth in FIBA AmeriCup Qualifying play, which the USA will close out against Mexico tomorrow, Feb. 20, at 5 p.m. EST (live on ESPN+).
Dakota Mathias (Free Agent/Purdue) finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists; Brandon Bass (Free Agent/LSU) added 12 points and 10 rebounds; and Joe Johnson (Free Agent/Arkansas) tallied 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
“Well actually, I felt really good with the immediate start of the game,” said USA head coach Joe Prunty. “I thought Isaiah (Thomas) got off to a quick start, a hot start. He hit, I believe, three 3s pretty quickly there, got us an 11-2 lead. But the one thing we knew – this is a very talented Bahamas team. They have several players from the last two windows, that didn't necessarily play together, but as a collective group is very talented, and they showed that tonight with their fight and how hard they played. So, they deserve credit. But I also like, with us, how we responded to several different situations that they threw at us, not only on the defensive end in making us execute, but also on the offensive end where we had to guard.”
The USA shot 49.3% from the field (33-67 FGs) and 46.9% from 3-point (15-32 3pt FGs), while holding Bahamas to 35.3% from the field and 28.6% from 3-point.
The first quarter saw Thomas help the USA get off to a strong start, including three-straight 3-pointers to put the USA ahead 11-2 two minutes into the game. Bahamas trailed 25-19 after the first period.
Bahamas took a 34-33 lead in the second quarter, but the USA closed on a 21-6 run to enter the halftime locker room with a 54-40 lead. Six players added points for the USA in the second period, including eight points from Mathias.
Bahamas’s Travis Munnings, who led all scorers in the game with 22 points, tallied 12 in the third quarter, but in the second half his side could come no closer than nine points, which was 59-50 at 6:51 in the third. Thomas and Nunnally paced the USA in the third quarter with five points apiece. Both teams tallied 21 points in the third, and it was 75-61 with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Including points from six scorers, the USA outscored Bahamas 18-16 in the fourth quarter to earn the 93-77 victory.
“It felt great,” said Thomas. “It's my first time playing in a little over a year. So, you know, I was a little rusty, but it felt amazing to be out there, competing against really good players, and also representing my country. So, I was happy to be out there, it felt good, and most importantly, we got the win and we'll be back at it tomorrow.”
Teams will continue to play games in the FIBA AmeriCup Qualifying final window through Feb. 21, after which the top three teams from each of the four groups will earn a berth into the FIBA AmeriCup 2022. With five wins, the USA is assured of its berth into the FIBA AmeriCup 2022, which will serve to qualify teams from the Americas zone for the 2024 Olympic Games.
“I thought we had times where we looked great as a team, and we had times where, you know, we just need to slow down a little bit, but that is kind of expected with some of the young guys,” said Johnson. “But all-in-all, we got a win, and we got to get ready for tomorrow.”
Assisting Prunty are experienced USA Basketball coaches Othella Harrington and Yale University head coach James Jones.