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Red-hot Venezuela hold off Korea fightback to advance with vital victory
KAUNAS (Lithuania) - Venezuela bounced back from an opening day loss at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament by beating Korea 94-80 behind an impressive first-half shooting performance.
They guaranteed their spot in the Semi-Finals with the required margin of victory needed to ensure a top-two finish in Group A.
Turning point: Venezuela used a 16-2 run across quarters to take control after an even opening and were up as many as 21 points with the first score of the third quarter. Back came Korea to wipe all but a single point off the deficit, but Venezuela responded with eight straight points in a pivotal spell to inspire a strong finish in the final period.
Game heroes: Michael Carrera led Venezuela with a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds along with 4 assists in a committed display while teammate Heissler Guillent topped their scoring effort with 17 points. Garly Sojo also had a big impact off the bench with an efficient 13 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists.
Stats don't lie: Venezuela were lights out from beyond the arc in the first half, shooting 10-of-15 as they took the ascendancy in the contest with 56 points already on the board at the half. Korea were unable to replicate the same level of accuracy and while Venezuela's shooting efforts did cool in the second half, they still profited from 28 points from turnovers.
Bottom line: Venezuela needed to win, and did so convincingly enough in the end to ensure their fate was decided by their own hands with attention now turning to Poland or Slovenia on Saturday. Korea are still alive but face a monumental task of avoiding elimination as they require a huge upset over host Lithuania