Young V.I. hoopsters get first win in Brazil
Font size: [A] [A] [A]
USVI Under 18 hoopsters get first win in Brazil
By AARON GRAY
Daily News Staff
After easily losing its first two games, the U.S. Virgin Islands Under-18 men's basketball team rebounded with a thrilling victory just before the semifinal round.
Khalid Hart finished with a game-high 30 points and converted two critical free throws with only 12 seconds left to lift the USVI to a 81-79 victory over Mexico at the FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship tournament in Sao Sebastian do Paraiso, Brazil, on Monday.
Hart, a forward, scored the last four points for the USVI, which improved to 1-2 at the tournament and will play either Puerto Rico or Columbia in the semifinal round today. The final round is Wednesday. Mexico fell to 0-3.
It was the second straight time the USVI has beaten Mexico at this tournament, which is held every two years. Both wins over Mexico -- the USVI got past Mexico in a memorable 88-78 victory in 2010 -- account for the USVI's only wins at this tourney.
Hart also pulled down seven rebounds while Alex Brazil had an impressive game for the USVI with 17 points and a whopping 16 rebounds. Angel Daniel Rivera-Cuencas also filled the stat sheet for the USVI with 14 points, four rebounds and a team-high six assists.
USVI coach Jareem Dowling was not available for comment.
It was a physical game as the USVI went to the free-throw line 49 times, but they also converted 34 attempts, which accounted for almost 50 percent of the team's scoring.
Five other USVI players scored in the contest as Alvah Phillip Jr. finished with seven points and four rebounds.
J. Estrada Stone paced Mexico in scoring with 25 points and was one of three double-digit scorers for Mexico.
The tournament's semifinal round begins today and the USVI was drawn in Group A with the USA, Mexico and host Brazil for the five-day tourney. The USVI fell to Brazil on Sunday, 84-65, and was blown out by USA on Saturday in the tourney opener, 105-42.
Group B includes Canada, Puerto Rico, Argentina and Columbia. Each team will play in the semifinal and final rounds today and Wednesday.
The top Under-18 players from the territory make up one of the eight teams vying for a spot in next summer's 2013 FIBA Under-19 World Championship. Only the top four teams will advance.
- Contact sports writer Aaron Gray at 714-9102 or email agray@dailynews.