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WINNING FORM: Virgin Islands Lives Up To Its FIBA Ranking With A 93-85 Dismantling of The Bahamas In Nassau

NASSAU — The Virgin Islands’ men’s national basketball team got its first win in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifier tournament, besting the Bahamas 93-85 last night in the Sir Kendall Isaacs Gymnasium.

The 51st ranked team in FIBA rankings were world beaters in the FIBA AmeriCup Championships in September and finished number four overall, behind only the United States, Argentina and Mexico.

So expectations were high for these games — and the good guys were playing the Bahamas on their home court.

Jamaal Omar Samuel scored a game-high 26 points to lead four players in double figures for the territorial team.

The difference in the game was fast break points: the Virgin Islands got points from 23 fast breaks and the Bahamas only scored off of 13 fast breaks.

Walter Hodge and Georgio Milligan added 18 points each, and Xavier Shamal Richards had 12 points for the USVI National Team.

Shaquille Cleare and Jaraun Burrows finished with 18 points each for the Bahamas, No. 59 in the FIBA rankings.

Turning point

The V.I. led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, only to see the Bahamas rally, pulling within 88-85 on Cleare’s jumper with 2 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. But Richards hit a jumper eight seconds later to kick off a five-point run that closed out the win for the V.I.

Three who mattered

Jamaal Omar Samuel, U.S. Virgin Islands: Had 19 points in the first half, but was held scoreless in the third quarter as the Bahamas began its comeback. However, Samuel hit several key shots that kept the V.I. ahead in the fourth quarter.

Jaraun Burrows, Bahamas: With Cleare, helped make up a strong 1-2 inside punch for the Bahamas. In addition to his scoring, Burrows also tied for the team lead in rebounds (eight), with six of those coming on the offensive glass.

Georgio Milligan, U.S. Virgin Islands: Had a near-perfect night shooting the ball — 5 of 6 from the field, 8 of 9 on free throws. He also came up with four assists, a steal and a blocked shot.

Observations

• The USVI National Team wraps up the first set of group-play games with a 1-1 record. The Dominican Republic, No. 17 in the FIBA world rankings, leads Group D with a 2-0 record after beating No. 25 Canada 88-76 on Monday. The USVI and Canada are now tied at 1-1, with the Bahamas 0-2.

• One problem area for the undermanned V.I. in its first two games has been rebounding, especially in Monday’s game. The Bahamas held a 54-43 advantage on the boards against the USVI, including a 25-16 edge in offensive rebounds.

• The offensive rebounds gave the Bahamas 11 more shot attempts than the V.I., and more shots made — 36 of 85, to 32 of 74 for the USVI. But the USVI held a major advantage at the free throw line — 23 of 31, to just 6 of 11 for the Bahamas.

• A key stat from the fourth quarter — turnovers. Through three quarters, the Bahamas had committed just seven turnovers, to nine for the USVI. But in the final period, the Bahamas more than doubled that number (eight), while the USVI made only three TOs.

What’s next

The teams in the Americas Qualifiers take a break until late February, when they play two more games. Both of the USVI’s games are scheduled to be played at home, hosting Canada on Feb. 22 and the Dominican Republic on Feb. 25.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1989. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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