17 January, 2019
31 March
16 Rodney Green
10/02/2019
Review
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Guaros are lonely at the top of Group D

PONCE (DIRECTV Liga de las Américas) – Guaros de Lara (Venezuela) are the only undefeated team after two days of Group D at the DIRECTV Liga de las Américas, following their victory against locals Leones de Ponce (Puerto Rico), 83-79, at Juan “Pachín” Vicéns auditorium.

The Lara squad stayed alive off their great third quarter, when, with an effective defense, they marked a 63-43 advantage that allowed them to stall the hosts’ final stride, who scored 36 points in the last quarter.

Small Forward Aaron Harper was Guaros’ greatest scorer, with 23 units, and Rodney Green produced 17 coming in from the bench.

 

Coach Fernando Duró’s substitutes contributed 35 points despite only having nine players available after Point Guard Gregory Vargas’ absence due to a calf injury during the first day.

“We're happy with the victory. In the end we didn't win with the advantage we hoped for, but we dominated almost the entire game. We did the job in the defense for at least three quarters and we played a team game. The lack of continuity (in activity) is causing us to make mistakes and we still have to improve the shooting percentages,” commented Point Guard Heissler Guillent, who scored seven points.

With 25 points left until the end, the Venezuelans were up by eight (80-72), but Leones pressured hard with four points by José Guitián and then a three-pointer by Carlos Arroyo near the end that marked 81-79 on the scoreboard with nine seconds left. However, Harper defined things by achieving two free throws in front of a crowd that was pressuring.

“I'm a bit disappointed because we haven't done what we have to do, but the beautiful thing about this league is that we still have a chance. No excuses. Luck hasn't been on our side. Tomorrow (on Sunday) we need to fight because they (Arecibo) will also come to try to take the game,” said Arroyo, who once again led his team, this time with 23 points and seven assists.

Nicolas Minnerath and Ángel Vasallo contributed 16 and 14 points, respectively, for Leones, who are now carrying a 0-2 record.

Earlier, Capitanes de Arecibo (Puerto Rico) overcame their first-day loss and defeated Libertadores de Querétaro (Mexico), 86-75, featuring a great performance by their foreign reinforcements. Andre Emmett led the attack with 30 points, while Center Elijah Holman added 23 with 12 rebounds, and Victor Rudd contributed 10 and 16.

The Puerto Rican champion controlled the encounter by constantly attacking the lane and using offensive rebounds in their favor. 58 points were achieved from the restricted area and used 16 offensive rebounds to create second opportunities that turned into 14 points.

However, Libertadores reacted in the last quarter and at a point came to a mere three-point difference thanks to a two-pointer by Anthony Young, with 3:26 left. But the defense waivered again and the Boricuas quickly took off once more.

A two-pointer and an aditional free throw by Emmett with 2:38 minutes left, and then a layup by Christian Pizarro with 2:10, widened the gap, 83-73, and sealed the deal for Capitanes. With this result, both teams now hold a 1-1 record.

“Last night (on Friday) we talked about this game and we were ready. We had a lot of offensive rebounds, we improved the defense and the attitude. The adjustment was to put pressure on the ball the whole time. Now the group is equalled and tomorrow (Sunday) we must go out to win, commented Point Guard Pizarro.

“It’ll be a great game against Ponce. We know each other, we have a rivalry. They have their fans, but we're going in with all we've got,” added the player.

 

For Querétaro, César Vásquez Guerrero was outstanding with 20 points, and Andrew Feeley added 17 with 15 rebounds.

“They almost completely dominated, but we did have a chance when we put in energy from the bench. At that moment, when we closed in, we failed several set shots. When we fail that type of shots, it’s hard because we tend to get discouraged in the defense,” explained the Mexican quintet’s coach, Argentina native Leandro Ramella.

This Sunday, on the group's final gameday, all squads hold the opportunity to move on to the next stage of the tournament. Guaros will clash against Libertadores, starting at 17:10 local game time, and after that, there will be a Puerto Rican duel between Leones and Capitanes.

FIBA