08 - 12
December 2021
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Puerto Rico win gold at FIBA Centrobasket U17 Championship 2021

 MEXICALI (MEXICO) - An electric atmosphere greeted host Mexico and Puerto Rico as they battled for gold at the FIBA Centrobasket U17 Championship 2021 on Sunday.

Puerto Rico 81- 79 Mexico (OT)

There were always going to be runs. These two teams have run starters on offense and run stoppers on defense so it was no surprise that Mexico, midway through the first quarter would jet out on a 6-0 run to take a 10-4 lead that would sustain them till the end of the period where Mexico would lead 20-13.

That lead would grow to 25-15 when Puerto Rico would respond and outscore Mexico 10-0 to tie things thanks to a triple by Davion Gonzalez. Both teams traded blows unable to pull away until Santiago Camacho nailed a three followed by a layup and two free throws from Eduardo Espejel moved the home side out by 10 at 38-28 with 2:35 until the halftime buzzer. The defending FIBA U17 CentroBasket champions would increase their lead to 13 but would settle for a 42-33 lead at the half.

Mexico held an 11-poinit advantage in points off turnovers and shot the ball well in the first twenty minutes at 55-percent on 16-29 from the field. Camacho and Josue Ocampo led Mexico in scoring with eight apiece.

Puerto Rico was led by Edir Ortiz with nine points. The winners of Group A struggled at times shooting the basketball at 13-29 from the field and just 3-7 from the free throw line.

A 9-0 run started things quickly for Mexico in the second half as they led 51-33. Mexico would extend that lead to 19 after two free throws from Ocampo with six minutes to go in the quarter. Puerto Rico, too tough to go away quietly, cut the lead to nine as Yaniel Rivera drilled a three at the 3:23 mark but once again Mexico ran out and ballooned their lead back to double digits highlighted be a four-point play by Aram Soqui. The hosts led 69-53 going into the final quarter of the tournament.

A driving layup by Ortiz cut the Mexico lead to 69-61 with 6:44 to go as Puerto Rico turned up the defense causing turnovers and shot clock violations on the way to getting back in the game. They continued to chip away. Down by as many as 19, back-to-back threes by Ortiz tied the game at 74-74 with 1:15 to go in regulation. After a shot clock violation by Mexico, Puerto Rico had the ball with the chance to take their first lead of the game. Jose Ortiz missed a three, Mexico’s Ocampo then missed a floater and the final game of this tournament was headed to overtime.

Alejandro Aviles who had a quiet night up to the point, hit an elbow jumper that gave Puerto Rico their first lead of the game 76-74 at 4:46 to go in extra time. Camacho tied things up on the other end with two free throws giving him 32-points on the night.

A layup by Omar Sanchez and two free throws from Aviles moved Puerto Rico out front 80-76 with 1:30 to go. Mexico was scoreless for over two minutes. That drought ended with a huge triple from Camacho pulling Mexico to within one at 80-79 with 0:05 to play. Aviles would be fouled and would make one of two for the final score of 81-79.

Ortiz led three Puerto Rican players in double figures with 28 on 10-19 shooting. Mexico was led by Camacho who posted a game high 35-points. Ocampo chipped in with 12.

Puerto Rico wins the gold and turned the tables on Mexico winning on their home floor after Mexico did the same in 2017 in San Juan. By competing in the final - both teams qualify for the 2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championships in June.