USA advanced to the next round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers after winning Group D with 13 points after six games. Xavier Munford set the tone early for the United States by scoring 24 points in the 87-64 win.
The United States withdraws early from Cuba
The Americans entered the night knowing they could close out the first round of the playoff group stage top of the standings with victory on Monday night. Cuba, on the other hand, hadn’t won any games and were looking for some consolation after being knocked out earlier in the tournament.
The game between these two teams was much closer, but Team USA used strong last three quarters to get away from the Cubans and still on the way to victory.
Cuba looked good, as they often did throughout the tournament, in the first quarter. They defended well, hit hard on the boards and had a 16-14 lead after the first ten minutes gambling in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Munford makes it possible
Xavier Munford and the rest of Team USA responded quickly with a 14-2 run to start the second quarter, and hasn’t looked back since then. The lead swelled to 14 points in the second quarter, and even though there was a mini-race in Cuba just before halftime, the United States had the last team in Group D at their wit’s end. arms throughout the second half.
Munford and Justin Jackson carried USA all the way as lead stretched to over 20 pointsand Cuba’s offensive sets bogged down.
Despite a cold start to the game, the US ended the evening shooting 50% from the field and making 12 of their 35 three-point attempts. Cuba struggled on the court but held on for most of the first half with fantastic rebounds. Yoel Cubilla and Jasiel Rivero helped the Cubans win the battle of the boards 45-37 while Cuba held on to the offensive boards 18-10.
USA joins Mexico and Puerto Rico in next round
Dominating the rebound wouldn’t be enough to bring the United States down, as the lead remained around 20 until the end of the game. USA join Mexico and Puerto Rico from Group D in the second round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers.
Everyone expects the United States to make the World Cup to be held in 2023but they will have to do it against a tough field of rising teams from North and South America.