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Virgin Islands Men’s Basketball Team Finishes Just Out of Medal Contention at the FIBA AmeriCup Championships

DRIVING LANE: No. 11 Alex Perez of Mexico drives past Deon Edwin of the Virgin Islands on Sunday night in Argentina. The Mexicans took the Bronze medal with a 79-65 win, but the Virgin Islanders were the talk of the tournament with their solid play and amazing upset of Canada in the first game.

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CORDOBA, Argentina — The Virgin Islands made its best finish yet in the Americas basketball championships of our region.

Although Mexico defeated Virgin Islands 79-65 and won the FIBA AmeriCup 2017 Bronze Medal — the territory got more than an honorable mention by playing the way that it did.

The Mexicans dominated the whole match and closed their participation with a score of four wins and one defeat.

For the hometown squad, it was a very positive tournament and their debut against Canada was their biggest highlight when the No. 59 team in the world upset No. 24.

Francisco Cruz was the star player of the team; that also exhibited good plays by Garibay, Hernández and Jorge Gutiérrez.

Mexico controlled the first quarter.

The team commanded the court and forced its rival to make bad shots. Their main weapon on offense was solid defensive rebound play.

Fast breaks usually took their opponent by surprise.

In six minutes, they had a maximum lead of 14 points (18-4), closing the first quarter 13 points ahead (20-7). Lorenzo Mata in the defense and Cruz in the offense were the winning team’s best players.

Everything seemed to stay the same, but after Girón’s double, the score increased by 15 (22-7). It was then when the Islanders changed their game and took better defensive decisions. Edwin and Jones attacked efficiently, and that’s how they got a double after a 15-2 run in just 4 minutes.

In fact, they the chance to tie the game but they didn’t and Mexico had no mercy. It was Garibay’s moment in the game. With nine points in a row, he took the air and once again enlarged the difference by 13 (39-26) before resting during another short break.

Beyond the reaction that Virgin Islands intended to seek —with Hodge taking better offensive options—, Mexico controlled the action with Cross as offensive player.

Once again, the Mexicans had the lead and were ahead by 16 points (58-42), being Hernández another one of the players who gave it all in the paint.

The third quarter was fairly even, but the Mexicans were still winning by 12 (61-49).

The Virgin Islands controlled the beginning of the fourth quarter.

They ran with Puerto Rico-native Hodge and caused serious offense mistakes for a team that relied heavily on point guard Cruz.

An 8-1 run put him back in the game (62-57).

However, they couldn’t get any closer.

The difference when taking rebounds was key in closing the game.

Gutiérrez’s lead, along with Cruz’s performance gave Mexico the possibility to end victorious and return home with the bronze.





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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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