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December 2021
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Puerto Rico and Mexico to face off once again for gold

MEXICALI (MEXICO) - The two semi-final matchups held plenty of intrigue. Could Puerto Rico get past their basketball rivals the Dominican Republic to play for gold for a second straight time? Could host Mexico put away upstart Costa Rica to try and defend their title?

Only time would give us the answers.

Puerto Rico 81 - 80 Dominican Republic

This matchup had the feel and intensity of a final. Two evenly matched basketball rivals desperately trying to get to tomorrow’s gold medal game.

A 9-3 run to open the game forced a DR timeout early on. Whatever DR head coach Jose Cabrera said worked as his club then ran off six points in a row to even things up at nine apiece.

The first quarter would end with Puerto Rico holding a 15-11 lead. Neither team shot well which had some to do with nerves and more to do with great defense. Puerto Rico would build a 10-point lead by constant offensive pressure 28-18 forcing another DR timeout with 5:49 to go till the halftime break. Alejandro Aviles was feeling it – scoring 12-points, six of those on six attempts from the free throw line with short jumpers and crashing the offensive glass.

The Dominican Republic switched to a zone defense trying to slow Aviles down and it did. Puerto Rico struggled to find the open areas leading to turnovers and an 8-0 DR run to close the gap to 32-26.

The DR would score the final five points of the first half staking them to a slim 38-34 lead. Aviles led Puerto Rico with 16 - fourteen of those before the Dominican Republic’s switch to the zone defense. Edwin Daniel finished the first half for the DR with a double-double, 10-points and 10-rebounds.

There were seven lead changes in the third quarter as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic battled going into the final quarter even at 58-58. The two teams mirroring each other on both ends of the floor with great defense and solid offense mainly from inside the three-point line.

There was more of the same excitement in the fourth quarter. A pivotal moment came with 6:43 to go when DR big man Edwin Daniel picked up his fourth foul and headed to the bench with his team up 64-63. During the three minutes Daniel sat, Puerto Rico went on a 10-3 run without fear of entering the lane and took a 74-66 lead.

The Dominican Republic fought back closing to within 79-78 before an Ortiz putback extended Puerto Rico’s advantage to 81-78 with 0:33 to go. A Daniel runner pulled the DR to within one at 81-80. In Puerto Rico’s next possession, the ball was tied up – possession arrow to the DR with 0:18 left. Another jump ball followed as the Dominican Republic were trying to take the lead and Puerto Rico got the ball back up one with 0:04 to go in the game. Puerto Rico was able to run out the clock as the Dominican had two fouls to give and advance to Sunday’s final 81-80.

Aviles led Puerto Rico with 25-points and 17 boards while Daniel went for 28 and 17 to pace the Dominican Republic.

On Sunday, the Dominican Republic will face Costa Rica for the bronze medal while Puerto Rico returns to the final for the second-consecutive time and will look for revenge after the 2019 edition of this tournament versus Mexico trying to turn the tables and win on their home court as Mexico won in San Juan in 2019.

Mexico 114 - 54 Costa Rica

Defending FIBA U17 CentroBasket champs Mexico had their sites set squarely on getting back to the gold medal game with a chance to repeat on Saturday night as they had no problem getting by Costa Rica 114-54.

Mexico got off to a quick start going out to a 16-5 lead forcing a Costa Rica timeout. The hosts were doing what they do best – sharing the basketball, dominating the boards and making great shot selection choices. Costa Rica responded after the timeout with an 8-0 run pulling to within 18-13 with 2:51 to go as Julian Quiros had eight points early.

Mexico would take a 30-18 lead into the second period, but Costa Rica kept it close using their strength – perimeter shooting, as they hit on 3-6 from downtown.

A 14-0 run however moved Mexico in front 47-23 and when the halftime buzzer sounded, Mexico had extended that already big lead to 58-27 as Mexico outscored Costa Rica 28-9 in the period. Aram Soqui led all scorers in the first twenty minutes with 17-points on 4-6 from three-point land as everyone who checked in to the game for the home side (11-players) scored. Quiros led Costa Rica with 10-points in the first half.

Mexico’s size and depth continued to pay rewards as the second half opened with an 16-0 run, giving them their biggest lead of the game 74-27 with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter. The lead would grow to as many as 47 before the period ended with Mexico holding a commanding 82-42 lead.

Mexico would shoot 63-percent for the game and dish out 42-assists defeating Costa Rica to move on to the gold medal match. Soqui led all scorers with 27-points, converting on 7-11 from beyond the arc. Quiros would finish the contest with 20 to lead the Ticos.

Costa Rica still has a chance to reach the podium as they will take on the Dominican Republic for bronze tomorrow afternoon.

Puerto Rico will be the opponent for Mexico in tomorrow nights gold medal game. These same two teams faced off in the 2019 edition of the FIBA U17 Centrobasket Tournament that saw Mexico take home the gold.