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22 November, 2021
28 February, 2023
25 Lucas Martinez (MEX)
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Most exciting games to watch in the Americas Qualifiers

MIAMI (United States) - As four groups of four teams take each other on to fight for one of just seven spots to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, here is one can't miss game from each group to watch during the first window of the FIBA 2023 World Cup Americas Qualifiers.

Group A – Venezuela vs Panama

Venezuela and Panama kick off Group A action when they face off at 12:10 local time as the first game of the qualifying tournament. Both teams are coming off FIBA AmeriCup 2022 Qualifiers performances where they both averaged roughly 74 points per game during Group Phase play, and both teams averaged shooting roughly 41 percent on field goals. Venezuela does have the edge in one department as they average 30 percent to Panama’s 23 percent when it comes to three-point shooting.

Panama is a gritty team defensively, averaging 9 steals per game and will be looking to force turnovers. A player like Nestor Colmenares is a dual-threat for Venezuela, able to contribute in both shooting and rebounding, as Colmenares averaged a 13.8 point, 10.2 rebound double-double during the AmeriCup qualifier. Panama’s side however will be doing the same with their roster of talent available this qualifying window.

Group B – Uruguay vs Colombia

Uruguay was dominant in their last time facing off against other Americas teams in the AmeriCup campaign, where they averaged 79.7 points per game compared to Colombia’s 65.2, shooting 36 percent as a team from beyond the three-point arc. However, Colombia dominates in offensive rebounding categories, averaging 12.7 rebounds per game on the offensive glass to Uruguay’s 9.5.

Bruno Fitipaldo will suit up for Uruguay, a dominant shooting guard who averaged 24.5 points per game during the AmeriCup qualifiers, but Colombia’s answer will be using key players in rotation to dominate on both sides of the ball including leading on the glass and putting pressure on Uruguay’s shooters. Uruguay will look to keep their shooting accurate as they will have to get gritty on the boards to keep up with Colombia’s defense.

Group C – Dominican Republic vs Virgin Islands

Both Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands have fast-paced, high scoring offenses that will be difficult to halt. The Virgin Islands averaged 89.3 points per game in their last AmeriCup qualifying window with two of their players scoring the most point out of everyone in the tournament. Their fast-paced, high-scoring offense is what has made them a legitimate threat, but the Dominican Republic have the skills to defend from the arc or in the paint.

The Dominican Republic’s offense relies heavily on their ball movement, averaging 22.3 assists per game in the AmeriCup.The  Dominican Republic will have to watch their fouls, especially with a team that is capable of steals and blocks the way the Virgin Islands is to stay away from putting them at the free throw line. Eloy Vargas returns for the Dominican Republic, not only having experience in the Americas during the AmeriCup averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds per game, but also with both Flamengo and Boca Juniors, two Basketball Champions League Americas teams.

Group D – Mexico vs Puerto Rico

Group D’s match-up is a showdown of two teams ranked in the top 25 of the FIBA World Rankings, with Puerto Rico ranked at 19 and Mexico ranked at 24. Group D is one of the strongest groups in the competition as USA and Cuba round out the talent, but Mexico and Puerto Rico have experience playing each other and USA from their AmeriCup window, and Puerto Rico took the win last time the two teams met up. Puerto Rico is a team that will be able to find the rim more accurately shooting 50% from two-point range in the AmeriCup qualifiers, but Mexico can out-rebound on both sides of the ball better than their opponent averaging 26.7 offensive rebounds and 35.3 defensively.

Puerto Rico’s leading scorer from the AmeriCup will not be with them during the qualifiers, so they will be looking to players like Jose Juan Barea to increase his share of the workload after averaging 18.5 points per game during the AmeriCup qualifiers. Mexico’s Gustavo Ayon will be their player to watch, a center capable of scoring and rebounding at a high level if on the floor.