Panama is the new champion of Central American Basketball after going over Costa Rica in a dominant FIBA COCABA Championship final. The gold medal contest pitted the Panamanians against tournament hosts Costa Rica, but any thoughts that home court advantage would play a part were quickly forgotten as Panama posted a 74-46 victory and completely blitzed the hosts.
The victory broke Mexico’s hold on the COCABA Championship, with the nation having won the last four editions of the tournament. Panama’s new position at the top of Central American hoops is the third time the nation has won the competition, although the first time since consecutive successes in 1999 and 2004. Interestingly, since its inception in 1999 there have only ever been two winners of this international tournament.
Costa Rica vs. Panama, 46-74
Panama controlled the game from the opening tip off and showed from the start that they were going to shut Costa Rica down in defence. Over the contest the champions pulled 39 off the defensive glass, while the hosts could only manage 12 rebounds in their own paint. Indeed, Costa Rica rarely got a look in and if it was not for an unselfish attack (14 assists compared to Panama’s 8) the home team could have been further swamped.
The evidence of a gulf in class was evident from the start as Panama allowed just six points to pour through their nets during the opening ten minutes, leaving the scoreboard on 6-21 at the first split. Costa Rica improved at both ends of the hard wood in the second quarter, but Panama still edged the frame 11-12 to extend its lead to 17-33 through the long break. With a comfortably double digit lead the Panamanian tea emerged for the third act with all the momentum and used a 12-23 run made it 29-56 heading into the final quarter. A clinical display was capped by a 17-18 winning final stanza that handed Panama the COCABA Championship for 2015.
Trevor Gaskins led the winners with a game high 24 points and 8 rebounds, while Ruben Garces added 16 points and 9 rebounds. Jose Lloreda added 13 points and 6 boards in success.
Rohel Wilson was the only Costa Rica player in double digits as the hosts were bitterly disappointed in the finale. Wilson managed to reach 10 points for the losing effort.