11 - 19
June 2021
15 Laeticia Amihere (CAN), Canada v El Salvador
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Five key takeaways from FIBA Women's AmeriCup Day 4

SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico) - With only one day of group action remaining after Day 4 of the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2021 in San Juan, the quarterfinal brackets are taking shape with top performers solidifying their positions to get the best chance at a top four finish to make the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers. From total game dominance to complete team improvement, here are five takeaways from the action of day four.

Canada’s Group A dominance
Being the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the Americas zone, it’s only fitting that both USA and Canada are undefeated in group play going into the final gameday of the group phase on Tuesday. However, both Puerto Rico and Brazil gave the teams a shake up on Sunday, leaving much room for improvement as they continue on in the tournament.

For Canada, they faced off against El Salvador and had another well-rounded performance that put them on top of Group A going into the last day of play with a 3-0 record. Sharpshooter Aislinn Konig had 12 points from 3-pointers in the win, while 22-year-old Shaina Pellington led the team in scoring with 21 points, leading the squad in points per game. Canada has now tallied 270 points in three games going into their final matchup against Colombia.

For El Salvador, the struggle continues in their first ever AmeriCup, though with every game they continue to improve, as Aida Gonzalez led the team in scoring with 14 points and joined Kimberly Villalobos as players to contribute 12 or more points in the match. Though El Salvador has struggled on the boards, especially offensively losing out on second chance points, they have held their strong opponent to 20 less points than they did when playing Brazil.

Now, Virgin Islands and El Salvador are left in a final day showdown to determine who will get the final spot in the Quarter-Finals of the AmeriCup.

USA’s scary secondary

In USA’s dominant 49-point win over Venezuela, it was the bench players who made the biggest impact in head coach Dawn Staley’s eyes. Players like Rhyne Howard and Aliyah Boston are in the red, white and blue’s starting five for a reason, but the key to USA’s success is their depth, and their secondary unit proved that not only was their defense and ability to keep Venezuela off the scoreboards a positive on its own, but each member of the squad can produce on both sides of the court as well.

Grace Berger, who is making her first ever appearance with USA basketball at the Women’s AmeriCup, added 8 points and 6 rebounds in the win in her almost 20 minutes of play, while standout forward Sedona Prince had her best performance of the competition with a 19 point, 7 rebound game as one of four USA players who scored over 11 points in the win.

With all but one active player scoring in the match, USA’s depth will be a struggle for their opponent to contain as the defending champions look to repeat their gold medal as they soar to the top of Group B with only one game against Argentina remaining in the group phase.


Brazil bounces back

After narrowly losing to Canada, Brazil restored their winning ways with a convincing 21-point win over Virgin Islands, moving into the top half of Group A and solidifying a spot in the quarterfinals.

Brazil mirrored what many other successful teams in the tournament have by sharing the responsibility and having multiple players across the bench to rely on. It was reserve Kamilla Silva who had the best performance in the game, tallying a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but as four other scorers also had 9 or more points and 4 or more rebounds, Brazil regained their confidence after a tough loss to Canada.

Shooting 50% from the field, Brazil moved the ball well around the Virgin Islands’ defense, and though in their own defensive zone the trio of Imani Tate, Anisha George and Nicole Day were giving Brazil a scare as they continued to find the basket, ultimately holding the rest of the Virgin Islands team to just 12 points allowed Brazil to cruise to a win and secure a spot in the next round of the Women’s AmeriCup.

Venezuela’s return to action

After missing their match against Argentina on Sunday due to COVID-19 protocol, Venezuela had to play the top team in Group B, the USA, but guard Daniela Wallen proved why she was a player to watch as she put up 18 points and 5 rebounds in the loss, including a first quarter buzzer beater to bring her team within five. Though Wallen was the only player to score in double digits, as the 26-year-old veteran is a leader for the relatively young squad, moving the ball and giving each player on the court an opportunity to find the net was a win of its own for the team.

Though Venezuela will be fighting against Dominican Republic for the final spot in Group B to qualify for the quarterfinal, Aguehil Girall and Waleska Perez also showed progress for Venezuela, making their first return to the AmeriCup in four years and having to deal with the adversity of playing one less game – and getting one less opportunity to improve – than some of the other strong teams in the group. Perez and Girall also combined for 10 boards, with Venezuela’s dynamic trio showing that there is an opportunity for the team to grow with more play in the Americas.


The Caribbean rivalry

In a longstanding rivalry that played out once again as both teams were drawn to Group B, Tayra Melendez was a leader both vocally as well as at the rim for Puerto Rico as they dominated Dominican Republic to stay in second place of Group B and most likely face off against Colombia in the Quarter-Finals as they took care of business closing out their portion of group play.

With 18 points and three made 3-pointers through two and a half quarters, Melendez led the charge on defense that made the biggest impact for Puerto Rico, ensuring that Puerto Rico kept Dominican Republic’s Elemy Colome at bay with just 9 points, though Yohanna Morton and Ashley Rojas picked up the offensive slack for Dominican Republic with a combined 22 points.

The real difference between the teams was each team’s ability to shoot from the 3-point line, as 39 of Puerto Rico’s points came from the arc. For Dominican Republic, just three 3-point shot fell for the team and being unable to defend Puerto Rico’s attempts as the swung the ball to the open shot ultimately was their downfall in the match.

Jennifer O’Neill had another stellar day with a 16-point, 7-rebound performance including shooting 100% from mid-range and controlling the ball movement for Puerto Rico’s efficient offense, while Ali Gibson used offensive rebounds to her advantage as she poured in 15 points and 7 rebounds of her own. Dominican Republic now must win against Venezuela in order to keep their 2022 World Cup Qualifier dreams alive and move to the quarterfinals.