Mexico, Puerto Rico, Canada, USA shine in Day 1
GUANAJUATO (Mexico) - Four games kicked off the FIBA U16 Americas Women’s Championship in Guanajuato, Mexico, featuring Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Canada, Brazil, USA, Chile, Mexico and Argentina with the top four teams qualifying for the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup for Women. Here are three main takeaways from the first day of action at the Fair Dome in León.
North America are early podium contenders
The United States are coming off a record year in the world of women’s basketball – and the U16 team has no shortage of greatness like the older generations who paved the way. Favorites to win, a 95-point victory set the tone for USA – who have won the last two editions of the competition, with Juju Watkins leading her team in both scoring and rebounding with a 21-point, 7-rebound performance. Breya Cunnigham also added 13 points for USA in the win and five different players finished in double-digit scoring for the USA.
Canada, the only team to knock of team USA at the U16 level in the last four competitions, also had a stellar showing against Brazil as Cassandre Prosper had a near double-double performance shooting over 66 percent from the field with a 24-point, 9 rebound performance in her 24 minutes on the floor to help lead her team over Brazil 82-56. Taissa Nascimento Queiroz put up similar numbers for Brazil with a 16-point, 9 rebound performance, but Brazil’s 29 turnovers allowed Canada to score 24 points resulting in the loss.
Puerto Rico’s veteran touch
With veteran Olympic point guard Pamela Rosado named as head coach of this U16 team, the fuel to grow Puerto Rico’s women’s program to the next level has been a key focus. And it was shown in their first game against Costa Rica with a secure 60-45 win. Putting in a full team effort on both ends of the court, five different players scored 9 or more points in the win, and seven players had 5 or more rebounds. Paloma Garcia led the charge on offense with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while Arianis Rivera Martinez grabbed 8 boards in the win.
Costa Rica stayed in the game up against a well-rounded Puerto Rico, with Raquel Cordero Cordoba not only scoring a team-high 11 points but also nabbing a team high 4 steals, but the team was out-rebounded by Puerto Rico 59-43 and allowed 40 points in the paint that sealed their fate moving into their next match against Canada.
Mexico’s home court advantage
Jumping out to a hot start as the final match of the day, Mexico had a big home crowd as they started on a 20-8 run in the first quarter against Argentina. Valeria Flores tallied 14 points in the first half alone, including four 3-pointers, shooting 50 percent from the floor.
Argentina played a tough match even despite the atmosphere, cutting Mexico’s lead to just one basket halfway through the third quarter thanks to a defensive rebound and transition layup from Malena Maggi. But Mexico capitalized off Argentina’s turnovers, scoring 20 points from steals and off-target passes.
In a nail-biter that was separated by just four points at times in the final minutes, Mexico pulled out the win for their electric crowd, finishing with an 8-point lead as the game ended 66-58 in favour of the home team. Flores finished with 20 points, while Gizel Navarro added 13 points while defensive tyrants Sara Guajardo and Fatima Rubio both grabbed 10 boards each including 8 defensive rebounds apiece.
Angelina Giacone led Argentina in scoring with her 12-point, 8 rebound performance while Delfina Cergneux added 9 points and 15 rebounds that kept Argentina in the game until the dying seconds.