Centrobasket 2014: Mexico and Puerto Rico reach final

Centrobasket 2014The Centrobasket 2014 tournament is nearing its showpiece event as both Puerto Rico and championship hosts Mexico earned berths in the final. After two exciting games the countries will play each other on August 8TH, while the Dominican Republic and Cuba will also contest the third/fourth place that day.

Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico, 73-78
As defending champs, the Dominican Republic would have hoped to advance to the championship game to defend its crown, but it was not to be. Instead, Puerto Rico claimed a victory to hand the Dominicans their first loss of the tournament and progress to the final.

A very close first quarter saw both teams put caution first, with scoring kept relatively low. After 10 minutes of play Puerto Rico had taken a slight advantage, with one point the difference at 15-16. Puerto Rico continued to impress in the second frame and extended its lead to 29-34, enjoying a five point cushion at the long break. The reigning champs fought back in the third and looked more secure in offense, streaming in 23 points and holding Puerto Rico to 17, snatching the lead with the fourth quarter to come (52-51). Puerto Rico pieced together the best stanza of the game with 27 points in the fourth, while the Dominican Republic only managed 21, not enough to reach the final.

Jose Juan Barea looked good for the winners once again as he topped the Puerto Ricans with 18 points. Barea’s efforts were followed by Devon Collier with 15 points.

Edward Santana kept the Dominican Republic clicking on the scoreboard with 14 points, while Victor Liz took 13 points and Elpidio Fortuna notched 12.

Mexico vs. Cuba, 85-70
Centrobasket 2014 hosts Mexico cruised into the final with a solid win over Cuba, and the home team will be confident of winning the final on this showing. The win meant that the Mexicans remain the only unbeaten team in the competition, extending their record to 5-0 over the week.

A huge first quarter for the hosts set a tone that was hard for Cuba to crack, while giving the Mexicans a cushion to protect. With the first break the home team had carved out a 25-12 lead thanks to some impressive play at both arcs. Cuba reacted in the second frame by winning the quarter, but the deficit was only slashed by three, with the visitors taking 20 points to Mexico’s 17. As the teams emerged for the second half, Mexico held a nice 10 point lead at 42-32 and they set about extending it in the third stanza. Once again the home team looked good in offense, pouring in 24 points during the quarter and restricting Cuba to 19. With 30 minutes on the clock the game was all but over with a 15 point gap once again re-established (66-51). The fourth quarter was a formality as Mexico maintained its formidable lead and eased into the final of the Centrobasket 2014.

Gustavo Ayon continues to be the go to guy for Mexico, nailing 28 points and 15 rebounds for an impressive double-double. Also showing up for the winners were Francisco Cruz with 15 points and Hector Hernandez with 14.

Osmel Oliva topped an outplayed Cuban team with 15 points, while Javier Justiz chipped in with 12.

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