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“We believed in ourselves” – Puerto Rico has the World Cup qualification in its hands after beating Brazil

Tremont Waters, star guard for Puerto Rico, scored winning points - Image Credit: FIBA
(The following article first appeared in ENDI.com, one of Puerto Rico’s Spanish daily newspaper. We have translated and edited for our readers)

The National Team travels to Medellín to meet Colombia on Sunday in an effort to ensure a place in the World Cup

Puerto Rico has the FIBA World Cup qualification in their hands.

Mexico’s landslide victory against Colombia 113-54 later led to a three-way tie for second place in Group F.

Both the Boricuas and the Brazilians and the Mexicans play for 7-4. Puerto Rico ranks second for winning the two games against Brazil, plus having a better point difference (-6) than the Mexicans by beating them in the first round by 10 points (97-87), after losing the initial match by four goals (90-86).

The United States qualified for the World Cup by playing 9-2, leader of the group, after eliminating Uruguay 88-77. The Colombians are out of contention by playing for 3-8.

On Sunday, Mexico visits Uruguay and Brazil receives the United States. Before moving to Colombia, Puerto Rico celebrated the huge victory in Brazilian territory with Waters’ basket shot with a second left in the game. Waters himself was the executioner for Brazil last August at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, finishing with 29 points, 13 in the fourth quarter, for the also close 75-72 victory.

In a press conference, Waters, who currently plays in France with Metropolitans 92, gave credit to his teammates and coaching staff for the confidence he took to shoot and silence the Arena Polideportiva in Santa Cruz do Sul.

“I know I made the basket, but the game goes to my teammates and my coaches. We have some new players that I haven’t played with. But everybody had confidence and we believed in ourselves,” said Waters, who finished with 10 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

“I didn’t have the best offensive game, but I did other things. With the confidence of my teammates, telling me to keep playing. Again, I made the shot, but the game is up to them,” he added.

Chris Ortiz was the best scorer for Puerto Rico with 21 points, seven in the last and agonizing period. Ysmael Romero followed with 18 points and Gian Clavell added 16 with four triples.

“It was an exciting and fun game. I don’t know for the coaches (laughs). It was definitely an offensive game. He got the ball. A cheerful and physical game was played. Super happy with all the work we did”, stated Clavell.

“The coaching staff prepared us quite well for this match. Focused players, supporting each other, we have that chemistry in the team. Is not over. We have one more, but tonight we celebrate this victory”, added the starting guard.

Before arriving in Brazil, the national team spent five days in Miami, Florida, training at the sports facilities of the Florida International University, the alma mater of the general manager and former player Carlos Arroyo. Until Thursday, Puerto Rico had not been able to win in the South American giant.

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