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We gave our all; respect to Cuba and Bahamas!

HighlightsWe gave our all; respect to Cuba and Bahamas!

Cuba 1st, Bahamas 2nd, Belize 3rd, Antigua 4th in FIBA World Cup qualifying quadrangular

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 25, 2019– Belize came one 3-point shot away, and two chances to make it, from securing a 1-point victory over powerhouse Cuba in the FIBA World Cup qualifying quadrangular on Saturday night at the Civic Center in Belize City. Cuba’s outstanding center Javier Justiz was sidelined for almost the last three quarters, but with a superlative effort from Jasiel Rivero, Cuba still managed an 82-80 victory over Belize. Cuba walked away with the championship trophy after demolishing Antigua last night, while Belize fought gamely, but fell to second place Bahamas in last night’s final game of the weekend quadrangular.

The 3-day tournament tipped off on Friday night with Cuba defeating Bahamas, 88-74; after which the Belize team thrilled local fans with a convincing 96-71 victory over Antigua & Barbuda. For Belize, Richard Troyer led all scorers with 20 pts 4 rebs, followed by Tyrone Hall 15 pts 6 rebs 2 assts, Kirk Smith 15 pts 6 rebs, Jihad Wright 13 pts 4 rebs, Glency Lopez 8 pts 8 rebs 4 assts, Edgar Mitchell 8 pts 3 rebs 8 assts, Devin Daly 6 pts 6 rebs, and Daniel Conorque 5 pts 3 reb 4 assts; while Antigua was led by Duane James 18 pts 10 rebs 2 assts, Joel McIntosh 13 pts 4 rebs 2 assts, and Vivian Destin 6 pts 6 rebs 2 assts.

The opener on Saturday night saw Bahamas crushing Antigua, 110-56; and in the exciting nightcap that was decided by the final shot, Cuba clipped Belize, 82-80, after Belize’s Devin Daly missed back-to-back 3-point attempts with the game clock winding down to the finish.  Cuba’s big star center Javier Justiz sat out most of the game, after his emotional reaction to picking up his third fowl in the second quarter, led to a technical foul along with disciplinary action from their coach. Our point guard wizard, Glency Lopez was largely responsible for Justiz’ problems. Cuba was led by Jasiel Rivero 29 pts 9 rebs 3 assts, Yoanki Mensia 20 pts 10 rebs 3 assts, Yuniskei Molina 13 pts 7 rebs 3 assts, and Karel Guzman 11 pts 5 rebs 2 assts; while Belize had Devin Daly with 23 pts 5 rebs, Daniel Conorque 13 pts 7 rebs 3 assts, Jihad Wright 13 pts 4 rebs 2 assts, Glency Lopez 10 pts 2 rebs 5 assts 3 stls, Matthew Young 5 pts 4 rebs, and Edgar Mitchell 5 pts 3 rebs.

In last night’s opener, Cuba completed the sweep and secured the championship after cruising to a 123-70 blowout of Antigua. The nightcap saw the smaller sized Belize team pushing the pace against Bahamas, who dominated the defensive boards, 48-23, thus denying Belize second chance attempts when their shots were not falling. And although the tenacity of the smaller Belize players resulted in a big advantage in free throws attempted, our conversion rate was woefully low, making only 46.7% (14 of 30) to Bahamas’ 76.2% (16 of 21).  Being unaccustomed to the three consecutive days of competition may have dulled Belize’s shooting edge (tired legs?), as Bahamas was also clearly more efficient in field goal percentage, making 45.6% of their shots (31 of 68) to Belize’s 33.3% (26 of 78). The result was an 86-72 victory for Bahamas, although Belize battled to end the first half even at 42-42. A foot injury suffered by Devin Daly early in the fourth quarter (or late in the third?) made a comeback more difficult after Bahamas had opened a 9-point lead to end the third quarter.

Bahamas was led by Michael Carey 21 pts 8 rebs 2 stls, Kentwan Smith 18 pts 15 rebs 4 assts, Shaquille Clare 16 pts 13 rebs 2 assts, Lourawls Naim 11 pts 5 rebs 7 assts, and David Nesbitt 10 pts 4 rebs; while our Belize team was led by Daniel Conorque 26 pts 7 rebs 2 assts, Devin Daly 11 pts, Jihad Wright 10 pts 2 rebs, Glency Lopez 10 pts 2 rebs 3 assts 2 stls, Richard Troyer 5 pts 8 rebs 2 assts, and Elvis Olivera 6 pts 4 rebs.

All in all, it was an exciting weekend of basketball, where our Belize National Team was fiercely competitive against Cuba and Bahamas, who will return to the FIBA Round of 16 to compete with the best teams in the Americas. Our young men gave everything they had and didn’t back down; what more can we ask? And our coaching staff, led by Milton Palacio, with assistance from Darren Bovell and Matthew Smiling, did a splendid job, as did their support technical and medical staff. Hooray for our guys!! We’re proud of the effort; and we’ll do better next time.

After the final game, Belize Basketball Federation President, Paul Thompson, along with FIBA officials, distributed medals to the 1st and 2nd place team members, as well as the championship trophy to Cuba.

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