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December 2021
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Dominican Republic takes bronze in U17 Centrobasket; El Salvador, Panama end with wins

 MEXICALI (MEXICO) - A chance to qualify for the 2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championships in June of next year was on the line Sunday evening in Mexicali, Mexico. Both Mexico and Puerto Rico had qualified as they would determine who would win gold and be crowned champion of this tournament while the Dominican Republic and Cost Rica battled for that third qualifying slot.

Dominican Republic 102-54 Costa Rica

The battle for bronze would depend on two very important things – how well would Costa Rica shoot the three and handle the pressure defense they were surely going to see and could the Dominican Republic force turnovers with pressure defense and win the rebounding stat line to get easy bucket sand second-chance baskets. The DR did what they needed to do in the first period having the rebounding edge 17-7 (six of those on the offensive glass). Costa Rica struggled from beyond the arc going 3-13. After one quarter the Dominican Republic led 19-15.

Back-to-back triples by Saul Martinez tied the game at 21-21 with 7:48 to go till halftime. With the halfcourt offense struggling, the DR turned up the defensive pressure forcing two 0:08 second violations and Evan Daniel asserted himself early. The 6-9 forward already had seven points and nine rebounds with 6:22 to go till the break.

A 5-0 spurt for Costa Rica coinciding with the Dominican Republic’s inability to execute on offense allowed the Ticos to close to within 35-30 with 2:49 till halftime. From that point on however, fueled by converting turnovers forced by baseline-to-baseline pressure, the Dominican Republic pulled away going on a 10-1 run to end the half 45-31.

Balanced scoring for the DR in the first half saw nine players hit the scorebook led by Daniel and Aidony Nivar with nine each. Saul Rodriguez sat atop the scoring list for Costa Rica with 10.

The game was blown open in the third quarter as the Dominican Republic started the second half on a 18-5 run fueled by defense -forcing turnovers and converting layups to lead 63-36 and would not be threatened the rest of the way.

The DR bounced back in a great way and showed character and passion putting a one-point loss to Puerto Rico in the semi-finals behind them to capture bronze 102-54 over Costa Rica.

Yeison Liberato led four players in double-figures for the winners with 19-points. Rodriguez would score the same to lead Costa Rica.

With the win, the Dominican Republic will join Mexico and Puerto Rico at the 2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championship to be played In June at a site still to be determined.

Panama 82 - 76 Jamaica

In one of the best games of the tournament, a 6-0 run over a two-minute period of time in the fourth quarter was the difference as Panama took fifth place in the 2021 FIBA U17 CentroBasket Championship with an 82-76-win Sunday afternoon.

Everything in this game was close – the score of course but every statistical category was almost even. There were seven lead changes with Panama holding the largest lead of the contest at 13. Even the turnover numbers were close as both teams combined for 66-miscues which helped things stay close as neither could take control.

Five of those lead changes came in the first half as the game swayed back and forth. Jamaica led after the first period 23-21 with McDonald netting 8-points and Johnson doing what helped him be one of the most dynamic offensive forces in Mexicali was a perfect6-6 from the free throw line.

It was Panama’s turn n the second quarter to move into the lead getting easy buckets around the rim and taking a slim 44-39 lead at the halftime break. Johnson led a Jamaica team that as they tournament went on found other scorers to share some of the offensive load with 15 in the first half. Backcourt mate Marcus McDonald helped with 11. Fernando Gonzalez shot 50-percent from the field in the first two quarters to go to the locker room with 12-points.

Panama held onto a nine-point lead after three quarters and managed to limit Johnson to two field goals on two attempts in the period. Couple that with McDonald who was just 1-3 from the field in the quarter - the Panamanian defense was doing its job.

Jamaica would outscore Panama in the final 10-minutes but that dry spell did in a team whose effort was never questioned but whose depth and lack of balance was an issue.

Humberto Kentish led four players in double figures for the winners with 16 wile Johnson led Jamaica with 34-points in his worst shooting game of the tournament. In five games, Johnson averaged 36-points per contest. McDonald (13) and Flawless Travers with 12-points also reached double-figures for Jamaica.

El Salvador 73-59 Aruba

El Salvador captured seventh place in the 2021 FIBA U17 CentroBasket Championships with a 73-59 win over Aruba behind 24-points and 12-rebounds from Juan Ibarra.

Things got off to a fast start for El Salvador leading 12-2 early and 31-19 after the first quarter. The game plan was to get the ball inside whether in the half court offense or because of transition baskets. Only five shot attempts outside of the lane.

Aruba didn’t give up. They kept coming and narrowed the lead at the half to 46-33. El Salvador dominated the rebounding battle allowing for easy baskets winning the offensive boards 19-3 in the first twenty minutes as both teams struggled from the field.

Ibarra scored 12-points in the first half and six rebounds – all on the offensive glass. Cesar Peraza and Kaeden Sibrian also hit for double figures. Jean Salomond was 4-9 from the field for 11-points to pace Aruba.

Along with Ibarra’s stat line, Jose Figueroa accounted for 11-poins and 20-rebounds (12 of those on the offensive end), Sibrian with 16-points and Peraza with 10.

Salomond finished with 16-points and 12-rebounds, Shandirow Schmidt led the Aruba attacked with 18-points and Braeden Van Spaandonk chipped in 10.