Puerto Rico Survives U.S. Virgin Islands Comeback Attempt For First Win
June 29, 2010 • San Antonio, Texas
Puerto Rico (1-3), which ran out to an early lead and never again trailed, fought off a furious comeback attempt by the U.S. Virgin Islands (1-3) to earn its first win, 87-76, at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Tuesday afternoon in San Antonio, Texas.
Puerto Rico was led to victory by Chris Ortiz, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds.
“I decided I have to take over for my team,” said Ortiz. “No one was really scoring or being a leader, so I took the initiative and I don’t like losing. We have to do more of what we did today: playing great D, passing the ball and communicating. We have to play together and play hard. I tried to rebound more today. In the first few games, we got out rebounded. I know I’m 6’ 7” and athletic and have to put that to use.”
Puerto Rico will play the winner of this afternoon’s Uruguay-Mexico contest in Wednesday’s fifth-place game at 3:00 p.m. (all times CDT), while the U.S. Virgin Islands will take on the loser of that contest at 1:00 p.m. for seventh place.
“We only had one month to get ready for the tournament, and we had the mentality that we had to come together as a team and prepare mentally for this tournament in San Antonio,” said Puerto Rico head coach Luis Ruiz. “We have to work together and make sure we’re pressing the ball. You can’t be selfish and you have to get along.”
Puerto Rico led 28-13 at the end of the first quarter and with 6:42 to play in the first half, grabbed a 23-point, 38-15, lead. From there the Virgin Islands squad chipped away and by the midway break trailed by 14 points, 47-33. Entering the final stanza Puerto Rico led 62-50, but the Virgin Islands never let up and with 55 seconds to play Aaron Brown hit two of three attempts from the line, cutting it to eight points, 79-71 and giving hope to his team. From there, however, the U.S. Virgin Islands were forced to foul to stop the clock and Puerto Rico sealed the win by hitting 6-of-8 from the line down the stretch.
Puerto Rico had five players score in double digits. In addition to Ortiz, DeJuan Marrero scored 13, Gary Browne and Angel Matias each tossed in 12 and Carmelo Betancourt scored 11.
Brown was his side’s top scorer with 31 points, while Merwin Potter scored 18 and Rasheed Swanson pitched in 11 points.