After a tough loss to the host country in the opener of the 2019 Centrobasket Under-17 (U17) Boys Championships on Wednesday, Team Bahamas bounced back on Thursday and got a resounding win over El Salvador.
Team Bahamas won easily, 86-57, at the historic Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Thursday. In the featured game on Wednesday night, they rallied late but fell, 75-70, to Puerto Rico. They have a pivotal game against the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) today, set for at 5:45 p.m. at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum. The winner of that game will have the inside track of advancing to the tournament semifinals which are set for Saturday. The final will be played on Sunday.
On the other side of the draw are Mexico, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
Just the medalists will advance to the 2020 FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Americas Under-18 (U18) Championships.
The Bahamas was never threatened in their game against El Salvador yesterday, leading 21-12 after the first quarter, and stretching that lead to 47-25 at the half. The lead grew to 30-plus midway through the third quarter, and Team Bahamas led 63-36 after three. El Salvador got no closer than 21 points in the fourth.
“With the way how they ended yesterday’s game (against Puerto Rico), that carried over into today and that was really important,” said Team Bahamas Head Coach Quinton “Three Ounce” Hall. “All that matters now is the game against the USVI. We are going to come up with a game plan and see what we come up with as a group.”
Malik Joseph led the way with 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting against El Salvador. Romad Dean added 13 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Deyton Albury had a dozen points, six steals, three rebounds and three assists, and Tyler Pinder contributed nine points.
“We came out and played better as a team today,” said Joseph. “We played more physical, we played hard and we played as a team. All the thanks and glory to God. He gave me the ability to come out here and play strong today and we got the win. Against the USVI, we just have to come out and play hard again and just play as a team.”
Anthony Reyes and Bryan Romero led El Salvador with 19 points apiece. No other player scored more than five for them. Reyes played all 40 minutes for El Salvador.
Team Bahamas shot 33-for-77 (42.86 percent) from the floor compared to 20-for-61 (32.79 percent ) for El Salvador. They out-rebounded the El Salvadorians 54-41 and forced a whopping 25 turnovers.
In the opener against Puerto Rico, The Bahamas came out aggressively, but tailed off a bit in the second quarter. After leading 17-16 after one, they fell behind 38-29 at the half.
Team Bahamas got to within three, 38-35, early in the third quarter on a lay-up from Dean, but got no closer the rest of the way. Puerto Rico stretched the lead to double digits coming down to the end of the third quarter on a floating jump shot from Jose Nazario. They led 60-47 at the end of three.
The Bahamas got to within five points, 63-58, midway through the fourth quarter, on a three-point shot from Pinder. However, slapped with a sense of urgency, Puerto Rico executed an 11-2 scoring run over the next three minutes to re-take control of the game. A late rally by The Bahamas fell short in the final minute of the game.
“The kids competed all the way to the end. The effort was there but defensively we need to clean up a few things,” said Hall after Wednesday’s opening loss. “Moving forward, it’s important that we do a better job of scouting because we really didn’t know what to expect from them.”
Against Puerto Rico, Albury paced The Bahamas with a game-high 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting. Dean had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Pinder contributed 11. Albury and Dean recently took part in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Basketball Without Borders Camp, and are now representing their country against elite competition.
In that game on Wednesday, the host nation got 16 points from Rafael Pinzon and a dozen points and five rebounds from Ramses Melendez. Four other players dropped in seven points apiece for them.
Action continues today at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum. Team Bahamas plays the USVI in a pivotal game for advancement.