The Mexican national team began its era without leader Gustavo Ion on Sunday with a 90-86 victory over Puerto Rico, in the first appearances for both teams in Group D of the Americas 2023 Basketball World Cup qualifiers.
Ion, who was the captain of the last major stage of Mexican basketball in which he qualified for the World Cup in 2014 after 40 years, retired from the team after failing to advance to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in pre-Olympic games in Split. , Croatia.
This Sunday, Mexico’s top scorer against Puerto Rico, which marked its coach Nelson Colon’s debut, was Gabriel Giron, with 21 points, as well as five rebounds and four assists.
Jeron sent eight points, six of them from a treble, to lead the Mexican attack that beat Puerto Rico 27-23 in the first quarter.
Mexico grabbed the paint and was smart to attack on the counter-attack, while Puerto Rico had faulty directions on field goals.
Puerto Rico took advantage of Mexico’s turnaround and scored 10 unanswered points from its opponent to turn the score around and lead 48-46 in the first half.
In addition, Cologne got five points from Jezreel de Jesús and grew in the area against Mexico who tried to unbalance the outside game, but came out with a skewed view.
With another good offensive production from Giron, from five points, Mexico was able to take the lead once again to reach the final set 68-66 ahead.
The Mexicans once again made use of their good interiors such as Daniel Amigo and Fabian James to beat the Puerto Rican defence.
Mexico finished the match in the final quarter by taking the absolute power in the paint and getting five points from Fabian James, a formula that led to a 90-86 win.
Prior to that, the United States defeated Cuba 95-90, a 21-point lead over Isaiah Thomas, the former Boston Celtics figure in the NBA.
Beating their opponent by a better margin of points, the United States took first place in Group D, while Mexico finished second.
On Monday, Mexico will face the United States and Cuba against Puerto Rico to finish the first window in the World Cup qualifiers in the Americas.
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