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7 Jhornan Zamora (VEN)
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Venezuela had a fantastic weekend in the Americas Qualifiers

CARACAS (FIBA Basketball World Cup Americas Qualifiers 2019) — Venezuela (9-1) stayed as absolute leaders of Group F at the Americas Qualifiers to the World Cup in China 2019, after defeating the Virgin Islands, 77-76, at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas with a three-point play by Pedro Chourio when there were only 5.2 seconds left on the clock.

Venezuela were losing by two (76-74), with 6.4 seconds left and the Virgin Islands had the ball in their possession, but Chourio anticipated the pass, cut the ball near the rim, and shot, scored and received the foul in the same play that would cause the free throw that would seal his side’s triumph.

“I was in shock. Everything went so fast,” said Chourio with a timid smile. “The victory was the reward for not giving up. We fought ‘til the end. The defense was the key,” said the shooting guard that belongs to Estudiantes de Concordia in the Argentine league.

The Venezuelan squad, before this duel, had turned into the second team in the Americas in reaching their qualification to China 2019, after having defeated Canada in Caracas on Friday, and with Uruguay’s loss against the United States on Sunday. However, for the squad it was important to stay leaders of their group.

“The game was difficult in every moment. I expected it to be like that. The Virgin Islands were more complete for this encounter, with Walter Hodge and other players. As locals, they wanted to show off. They played 40 minutes in the zone and we spent 40 minutes trying to pass the ball around,” said Venezuela’s coach, Fernando Duró.

“We didn't have the offensive rhythm that we expected, but we caught 51 rebounds (23 offensive) and despite we had a low shot percentage (29/83, for 35%), we managed 23 assists. In the end, we closed an unforgettable weekend, an unforgettable window. The truth is that I'm very happy for the players and the technical team,” added the Argentine strategist.

Jhornan Zamora, with four three-pointers and 16 points, was Venezuela’s greatest scorer, and once again portrayed a well-distributed attack. Gregory Echenique contributed 14 points and 15 rebounds, and Gregory and José Vargas added 13 and 10 units, respectively.

For the Caribbean squad, Georgio Milligan managed 22 points and Hodge achieved 20

The islanders, with no other options to advance to the World Cup, will close the Qualifiers in February, at home, welcoming Brazil and Chile.

Venezuela will travel to the Dominican Republic and Canada.