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December 2021
13 Joviel Acevedo (PUR)
10/12/2021
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Puerto Rico, Mexico remain undefeated; Panama, Jamaica pick up victories in Game Day 2

 MEXICALI (Mexico) - Game Day 2 at the 2021 FIBA U17 CentroBasket Championships was highlighted by matchups of countries battling to take control at the top of their respective groups after winning opening games and others who badly needed to secure two points with their first victories to stay in the hunt.

Puerto Rico 95 - 60 Costa Rica

The 2019 FIBA U17 Centrobasket silver medalists used their depth and pressure defense to swarm Costa Rica winning convincingly 95-60 to tip-off Game Day 2 in Group A.

Puerto Rico established their up-tempo style on both ends of the floor early taking a 23-12 lead over Costa Rica after the first period. The lead could have been much larger except for a 3-10 effort from the free throw line.

Puerto Rican length and depth were key factors. Depth especially important in a five-day tournament where you are playing consecutive days. Eddin Santiago’s 12-man squad all saw minutes in the first half compared to Alexis Monge’s crew who played only seven players in the first twenty minutes with Julian Quiros and Andres Mora playing every minute as Puerto Rico took a 44-27 lead into halftime behind a 24-3 bench scoring advantage. Jose Ortiz’s nine-points led Puerto Rico while Quiros continued his hot play in Mexicali with 15.

Puerto Rico pulled away in the third quarter outscoring the Ticos 27-16 for a 71-43 lead going into the final quarter. Costa Rica was plagued by cold shooting in the first half and that continued after halftime as they connected on just 27-percent from the field.

For the game – Puerto Rico had balanced scoring with a huge contribution from the bench, outscoring Costa Rica 57-11 and holding their Central American opponent to 34-percent shooting from 2-point range and just 16-percent from beyond the arc.

Ortiz led the victors with 14-points including 4-8 from three-point range. Every player wearing a Puerto Rico jersey scored in the win.

For Costa Rica – Mora led all scorers with 23-points. Quiros also finished in double-figures with 15 but did not score in the second half.

Tomorrow Puerto Rico takes on Aruba while Costa Rica faces off versus Panama.

Panama 108 - 48 Aruba

Panama looking for an important two points in Group A play went on an 18-0 run after falling behind Aruba early at 9-4 and secured the win 108-48.

The Canaleros forced 16 Aruba turnovers in the first quarter to overcome that small deficit scoring 22-points off those miscues while also dominating the boards to the tune of 20-9 with 16 of those beginning offensive rebounds for a 33-17 lead.

The second quarter brought more of the same as Panama continued to capitalize on Aruba miscues outscoring them 15-11 to take a 48-28 lead into the break. Kyrian Brooks led Aruba in the first twenty with 14-points while Jorge Roca and Victor Julio paced Panama with 10 each.

A 30-7 third quarter advantage put the game out of reach with Panama leading 78-35 heading to the last period. Through three quarters Aruba had turned the ball over 39-times and Panama took advantage with 27-steals accounting for 43-points.

In total, Panama forced 52 Aruba turnovers and outrebounded them 74-40 while shooting 50-percent from the field. Eight players scored in double-digits for the winners led by Roca and Hamurabis De Leon with 15-points each. Brooks led Aruba with 18 on the afternoon.

On Friday, Aruba battles Puerto Rico while Panama looks for two more points against Cost Rica.

Jamaica 95 - 78 El Salvador

Jamaica’s London Johnson tried to one- up his opening game performance where he hit for 40-points against Mexico. Once again Johnson hit the 40-point mark but valuable help from Marcus McDonald propelled Jamaica to a 95-78 win.

In a very exciting first half, Jamaica and El Salvador traded punches back and forth. The first twenty-minutes saw 11 lead changes with both teams almost even in all statistical columns except for the most important one – the score as Jamaica led at the break 48-40 behind Johnson’s offensive fireworks going for 28 in the first half on 12-14 shooting.

Cesar Peraza finished with 12 at the break followed by Juan Ibarra with 10 for El Salvador whose hot shooting from three-point land helped them stay in the game sinking 50-percent (5-10) of their shots from behind the arc.

Jamaica was able to stretch their lead to double figures in the third quarter by as many as 13 but not from the source FIBA U17 CentroBasket fans would expect. It was not the scoring of Johnson who did add to his total by four (32-points) in the period but instead his backcourt mate McDonald who had contributed 16 at that point. El Salvador stayed within striking distance behind Gabriel Tobar whose fearless drives to the rim and trips to the free throw line accounted for 11 El Salvador points.

A three-point shot from Kaeden Sibrian and a driving layup from Diego Benavides cut the Jamaica lead to 82-75 with four-minutes to go in the best game of the tournament so far. Sibrian’s floater cut things further to 82-77. Jamaica hadn’t scored in a little over three-minutes. That drought ended with a three from Flawless Travers and buckets from Johnson and McDonald extending the Jamaican lead back to double digits at 89-77 with 2:44 to go. El Salvador would then score just one-point in the last four minutes to end the game as Jamaica gained valuable points in Group B with a 95-78 win.

Johnson’s game high 40-points came on 16-26 shooting while McDonald chipped in 21-points in the win. Travers (11) and Romareo Millis (10) also finished in double figures for head coach Trevor Poyser.

El Salvador was led by Ibarra’s 20-points, followed by Peraza (16), Sibrian (12) and Tobar’s 11-points.

Next up for Jamaica is a date with the Dominican Republic while El Salvador faces host Mexico on Friday.

Mexico 77 - 67 Dominican Republic

In the most anticipated game of Day 2, the questions to be answered were could Mexico neutralize the Dominican Republic’s guards and who would win the front court battle. The answers to those two questions were yes (the DR starting backcourt combined for 11-points) and Mexico who won the rebounding battle and points in the paint.

Both teams battled nerves early on combining for eight turnovers in the first eight minutes of play but once things settled down, Mexico slowed things down in the halfcourt running effective sets getting back-to-back threes from Victor Valdes and three more buckets from Santiago Camacho giving the hosts a 16-15 lead. A 6-0 spurt at the end of the period extended the Mexico lead to 24-18.

The DR wanted to pick up the pace with defensive pressure and easy buckets in transition, cut into the Mexico advantage in the second period using a 7-2 run to tighten things up at 26-25. Mexico withstood the pressure and responded with a 9-0 run of their own to take a 35-25 lead with 4:42 to go before the half. Consecutive baskets by Camacho helped build the largest lead of the evening 46-33 with 1:39 till the break. Through patience on the offensive end and the steadying hand of Valdes, Mexico would stretch that lead out to 51-34 at halftime.

Camacho tallied 14 to lead Mexico in scoring while Junior Galicia put up the same number for the Dominican Republic. The reigning FIBA U17 CentroBasket champions shot a sizzling 60-percent from the field in the first two periods including 5-9 from three-point land. The Dominican Republic struggled from shooting 36-percent and just 2-9 from beyond the arc.

Two layups from Jorge Dominguez pushed the Mexico lead to 58-38 halfway through the third quarter. That lead would be cut to 15 at the end of the quarter as the Dominican Republic drew within 64-49 after outscoring Mexico in the period 15-13.

The Dominican Republic cut the Mexico lead to 75-67 with 2:03 to go taking advantage of three consecutive trips down the floor with turnovers by Mexico but would get no closer as Mexico survived a sloppy fourth quarter to remain unbeaten in Group B play.

Camacho (Zentro Basket in Spain) and Valdes (NBA Academy) both showed experience, maturity and a steadying influence leading Mexico with 20 and 15-points respectively on the night as Mexico, after seven consecutive losses to the DR in youth play have now won two in a row (beat the Dominican Republic 83-79 in the 2019 FIBA U17 CentroBasket Championships).

Junior Galicia led the Dominican Republic with 19 points. Edwin Daniel contributed nine points, 17-rebounds and seven blocked shots in the loss.

On Friday, Mexico will take on El Salvador while the Dominican Republic faces off versus Jamaica in the last group phase games of the tournament.

FIBA