The FIBA Americas 2015 tournament is underway. At stake, aside from national pride, are two berths to the basketball competition at the 2016 Olympic Games. Eight of the 10 participating took to the court to kick off Day 1 of the event. The action was intense from start to finish, with every win being ever-so important in the group stages.
Mexico vs. Dominican Republic, 84-66
The defending FIBA Americas champions, Mexico, brought back some the fire they showed back in 2013 and gave the fans some exhilarating basketball. Orlando Mendez set the tone early, helping Mexico establish a lead early in the game thanks to his outside shooting. Gustavo Ayon looked good and kept active in the paint. At the end of the first frame the hosts had a comfortable 24-13 lead.
Edgar Sosa did his best to rally the Dominican squad in the second period and they managed to cut into the lead and bring it down to 36-31 at the break.
Mexico stepped up their offense in the third period and raced off with an ever-improving advantage over Dominicana. Just like that, thanks to more three-point shooting from Mendez and Hector Hernandez, Mexico entered the final period with a daunting 20-point lead. The Dominicans did their best and pushed with an early rally, but Mexico answered, quashing their momentum to eventually hold on for the win.
Orlando Mendez led Mexico with 24 points and nailed 4-of-6 triples. Gustavo Ayon put up a double-double performance with 18 points and 11 boards.
Ururguay vs. Brazil, 71-57
Uruguay relied on solid three-point shooting and aggressive offensive rebounding to control this game. Brazil’s gameplan, on the other hand, was focused on pounding the ball in the low post. Uruguay was able to execute their line better thanks to good ball movement and wide floor spacing. The game stayed close in the early goings with Uruguay carving a slim first-half lead of three points, 27-24.
Uruguay made a strong push in the final frame, with Brazil collapsing under the pressure. Uruguay had better teamwork down the stretch and held on to their 60-47 edge in the last five minutes and eventually cruised to the victory. Bruno Fitipaldo led Uruguay with 12 points.
Venezuela vs. Cuba, 73-52
This was a dominant performance by Venezuela and Cuba was tested in their first game in the competition. A strong start by Cuba was quickly negated by the experienced Venezuelan squad, reversing the tide and coming out ahead 18-7 after the first period. Venezuela did not look back from there. At the end of the first half, Cuba was staring at a 39-21 gap that they had to overcome.
After the break, Venezuela outclassed Cuba in all of the statistical categories and had an easy road to the win.
Argentina vs. Puerto Rico, 91-86
Contrary to the other game in Group B, this one was more closely contested. Puerto Rico’s Jose Juan Barea tried to carry his team with his scoring at long range. Argentina’s Luis Scola (Photo Above), on the other hand, to the ball in the paint and was dominant in the shaded area.
Puerto Rico’s three-point shooting paid off for them early in the game and they managed 29-24 lead. In the second half the combination of Scola and Patricio Garino lifted Argentina with their polished offensive game. Argentina got into the triple launching game as well and it was what landed them a 74-72 lead late in the game.
Argentina exploded with a 12-0 run to start the final frame. They also stepped up their defense and locked down on Puerto Rico that could not find their openings to get back into the game.
Scola finished with 22 points, while Garino chipped in 19 of his own. Barea led Puerto Rico with 20 points.