As the FIBA World Cup nears it’s beginning this 2023 season, many exhibition matches have begun taking place in preparation for it, including one between the revamped USA and Puerto Rico squads. The visiting Puerto Rican side had held their own against the US in the three prior matches, all of which were single-digit losses for PR. But the Monday night matchup (August 7th) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas saw a revamped United States team take their game to the next level.
Although the final score, 117-74, may suggest otherwise, the game was an intense one, and relatively close throughout–until it wasn’t. The Boricua squad held their own for a majority of the game, up until a massive 20-0 run by the USA in the fourth quarter broke the game wide open, and things suddenly became unsalvageable.
Still, there was a lot to look forward to on the Puerto Rican side, despite the tough loss. Current Mets 92 guard Tremont Waters, who had previously played for the Boston Celtics (2019-2021), showed out in a tremendous effort, ending as the game’s top scorer with 17 points, to go along with three assists and five steals.
Alongside Waters were Iowa State product George Conditt IV and Jordan Howard, who combined for 22 points, and seem to be establishing themselves as second and third scoring options for Puerto Rico’s FIBA World Cup run.
Alongside Puerto Rico are a plethora of other Latin countries who are looking to make their mark in this year’s tournament, and show out for both their country and for Latin America as the sport of basketball continues to grow throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean. Repping the Latin American world in this year’s World Cup with Puerto Rico are Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic.
The year of the underdog seems to be the story on the side of Latin America, as teams like the DR and Venezuela nearly edged out perennial basketball powerhouse Argentina, knocking them out and qualifying in the process in the final stage of the Americas FIBA qualifiers. Big-time contributors Pako Cruz (MEX), Victor Liz (DR), Michael Carrera (VEN), and even former NBA players like Bruno Caboclo (BRA) will attempt to use the international platform to make names for themselves in the basketball world, and represent their team and country the best way they can in the process.
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