The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Americas Pre-Qualifiers continued on Saturday with one team proving they are the best federation in Group A, while two others will be dueling on Sunday for a spot to move onto the regular qualifiers.
Here are the results and analysis from day two.
Bahamas 75, Costa Rica 51
Following Friday’s miraculous comeback victory over Cuba, the Bahamas dominated Costa Rica Saturday. The Bahamas never let Costa Rica get comfortable. They led 17-8 after the end of the first quarter and outscored their opponent by 17 in the second period before cruising to an easy victory to improve their record to 2-0.
While Franco Miller (11 points) was the leader for the Bahamas after nailing the go-ahead shot to defeat Cuba, their balanced approach and ball distribution was overwhelming for Costa Rica’s defense. All 11 players who checked in scored at least two points while the team had 17 assists on 27 made field goals. It was an all-around complete effort offensively.
Costa Rica (1-1) will have to go back to the drawing board as they prep for a must-win game vs. Cuba on Sunday. After Manrique Alvarado and Isaac Conejo guided the country past El Salvador on Friday, the duo combined for just 10 points on 4-of-18 shooting vs. the Bahamas. More importantly, as a team, Costa Rica made only one (!) 3-pointer and shot a rough 32% from the field overall.
Cuba 86, El Salvador 70
There were questions as to how Cuba (1-1) would respond after collapsing vs. the Bahamas. Would they come out with a lot of energy considering they still can advance despite an opening loss? Or would a disastrous final two minutes roll over into Saturday’s showdown vs. El Salvador?
It turns out the latter was more accurate as Jasiel Rivero had another massive outing with 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting and nine rebounds. Yoel Cubilla and Karel Guzman pitched in to combine for 24 points while Lisvan Valdes added 13 of his own.
But Rivero is the story of the game – and possibly the group thus far. Through two days, it’s clear the 27-year-old, 6-foot-8 center is the best player on the floor no matter who he’s matched up against. His ability to space the court, use his strength on the interior and cook up advanced post moves in the paint provide the club with a matchup nightmare.
Cuba needs one more strong performance from Rivero against Costa Rica on Sunday, as a win will allow the country to advance.
Meanwhile, El Salvador’s dropped to 0-2 with this loss. They turned the ball over 23 times, making it extremely difficult for them to keep pace with Rivero and Cuba’s offensive attack.