MANILA – Puerto Rico and Greece moved on to the FIBA Basketball World Cup Round of 16 after beating their opponents in contrasting manners on Wednesday night.
At the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Puerto Rico joined Serbia as the top two finishers for Group B with a 107-89 win against China.
Needing only a win to advance, Puerto Rico did so in style, slowly but surely dominating China in the first half en route to a 52-37 halftime lead.
China played brilliantly in the third quarter to cut the lead down to nine, 78-69, entering the fourth, but Puerto Rico bounced back mightily in the fourth quarter to seal the rout.
Tremont Waters led Puerto Rico, which completes the cast for Group I along with Serbia, the Dominican Republic and Italy, with 22 points, three rebounds, six assists, and four steals.
Ismael Romero added 18 points and 10 rebounds as Puerto Rico also relegated South Sudan to the classification games–and a Thursday night clash with Gilas Pilipinas virtually without rest.
Zhao Jiwei led China, which will face Angola also on Thursday night in its own consolation game, with 14 points, one rebound, five assists and one steal.
The result also means a showdown between China and Gilas Pilipinas for potentially an outright seat in the Paris Olympics is set on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Greece booked its place in the second round with an 83-74 win against New Zealand at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Greece turned things around in the second half, holding New Zealand, which led by as much as 13 points in the second quarter, to just 11 third-quarter points before completing the comeback with a 33-point fourth quarter.
Ioannis Papapetrou led Greece, which joined the United States of America as the Group C team that advanced further into the World Cup, with 27 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block.
Giannoulis Larentzakis added 20 points and two rebounds.
Shea Ili led New Zealand with 27 points, five rebounds, eight assists, and one steal, while Finn Delany added 10 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
With New Zealand missing the Top 16 cut, Australia will be the lone Oceania representative to the Paris Olympics men’s 5×5 basketball event. (PNA)