Team USA went 4-1 yesterday, putting themselves in position to clinch a conference finals berth later on today. Prior to tipoff, I wrote about three must-watch matchups — USA vs. Puerto Rico, USA vs. Canada, and USA vs. Dominican Republic. All three lived up to expectations, some more than others, including an “upset” in Team USA’s initial match of the afternoon. Let’s revisit the ‘must-watches’:
Puerto Rico def. United States, 60-54
In Team USA’s first game, we saw JBM and KennyGotWork share the backcourt, starting alongside Crush (SF), Ramo (PF), and Ria (C). For Puerto Rico, we saw a lineup of WolfTooClutch (PG), YoungStar (SG), Wolf (SF), xoLebron (PF), and Jomar (C).
Team USA held a lead as high as 13 points during the first half of this one, and for a short period of time, it seemed they could run away with it. Before halftime, Puerto Rico closed the gap to just a few possessions, stealing momentum and setting us up for a hell of a second half.
Wolf’s green corner-three gave Puerto Rico a one-point lead midway through the fourth quarter (47-46). From there, Puerto Rico managed to protect the lead, taking advantage of a few late-game Team USA miscues. Over the final four-and-a-half minutes, Puerto Rico was +11 as a team, overcoming the United States’ lead and ultimately completing the ‘upset’.
Team USA: JBM (13pts-11asts-stl), KennyGotWork (19pts-3stl), Crushy (3pts-2ast-2stl), Ramo (4rebs), Ria (19pts-6rebs-2stl-90fg%)
Team Puerto Rico: WolfTooClutch (16pts-9asts), YoungStar (16pts-3asts-4stls-75fg%), Wolf (5pts-2sts-3stls). xoLebron (10pts-reb-100fg%), Jomar (13pts-3rebs-3asts-stl-blk-100fg%)
United States def. Canada, 67-61
Team USA once again went with the JBM-KennyGotWork backcourt, despite OriginalMalik recording a tournament-high 86 points (26-for-30 3PT) the game prior against Honduras (137-32 final). Crush (SF), Ramo (PF), and Ria (C) remained starters as well. Canada went with a lineup of Sav (PG), Rell (SG), Goon (SF), Dhuggz (PF), and Yusuf_Scarbz (C), opting against starting NBA 2K League veteran AuthenticAfrican.
Team USA managed to jump out to a comfortable ten-point lead early, maintaining the gap for the majority of the contest. Canada fought back, putting together a fourth quarter comeback but ultimately falling short. Starting Canada point guard Sav struggled, recording more turnovers (8) than field goals made (2).
Each Team USA starter hit double-digit scoring totals, and the team shot at an extremely efficient rate of 80% (28-for-35). Starting point guard JBM led the way, registering a double-double in the team’s win (18 points, 10 assists). After starting the afternoon with a loss, the win against Canada kept Team USA’s hopes of making the finals (12/20; 6:40 P.M. est.) alive.
Team USA: JBM (18pts-10asts-3stls-67fg%), KennyGotWork (12pts-4asts-stl), Crushy (10pts-ast-3stls-83%), Ramo (11pts-2asts-3stls-83fg%), Ria (16pts-5rebs-3asts-100fg%)
Team Canada: Sav (6pts-10asts-stl). Rell (11pts-4asts-2stls), Goon (12pts-2stls). Dhuggz (12pts-2stls-blk), Yusuf_Scarbz (20pts-2rebs-5asts),
United States def. Dominican Republic, 60-57 (OT)
United States went with the now-patented JBM-KennyGotWork-Crushy-Ramo-Ria lineup, while Dominican Republic started BOHIO (PG), Rando (SG), Majestic (SF), GLO (PF), and Tactuk (C).
First and foremost, Dominican Republic impressed heavily — BOHIO, Tactuk, and GLO to single out a few players, but it was really a collective team effort. Dominican Republic came out firing on all cylinders, claiming a near double-digit lead early in the first half. BOHIO showed exactly why he was such a highly-touted prospect just a year ago, commanding a clean offense and routinely putting points on the board for his country.
But this time around (opposite of Puerto Rico matchup), it’d be Team USA who’d erase an early deficit and steal a win. After a strong third quarter, the Dominican Republic lead was just two points heading into the final frame. Their lead was extended to eight with three minutes remaining, which is when Team USA finally woke up.
With one minute left, JBM found KennyGotWork on a designed wrap, who greened a 56% (!) contested three-ball to tie the ballgame at 48 apiece. From there, it felt like the lead exchanged hands as often the teams traded possessions, with JBM and BOHIO both displaying elite-level point guard play in crunch-time.
All in all, it was Puerto Rico who’d fall short in overtime (60-57), keeping Team USA’s hopes alive at a FIBA Esports Open finals appearance. The highlight video below has all important fourth quarter and overtime plays.
JBM (29pts-10asts-67fg%), KennyGotWork (11pts-2asts-stl), Crushy (3 stls-reb), Ramo (8pts-5rebs-blk-stl), Ria (12pts-3rebs-2stls)
Team Dominican Republic:
BOHIO (25pts-9asts-71fg%), Majestic (6pts-ast-stl), Rando (5pts-ast-stl), GLO (4pts-5rebs-4stls), Tactuk (17pts-8rebs-stl-blk)
Other Final Results
Argentina def. Brazil, 53-41
Bolivia def. Venezuela 61-50
Argentina def. Uruguay, 63-52
Brazil def. Argentina, 81-26
Uruguay def. Bolivia, 117-36
Puerto Rico def. United States, 60-54
Canada def. Costa Rica, 89-39
United States def. Honduras, 137-32
Puerto Rico def. Guatemala, 147-31
Dominican Republic def. Costa Rica, 133-36
Dominican Republic def. Honduras, 129-27
United States def. Guatemala, 107-30
‘Under the Radar’ Players Who Impressed
**no order, no explanation**
WolfTooClutch (PG), Puerto Rico
YoungStar (SG), Puerto Rico
xoLebron (PF), Puerto Rico
GLO (PF), Dominican Republic
BOHIO (PG), Dominican Republic
Goon (SF), Canada
CertifiedJuanma (PG), Uruguay
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