Brazil’s basketball team kicked off the second round of the Basketball World Cup qualifiers with a tough 75-72 loss to Puerto Rico in Group F this Thursday in San Juan. Dominating the score for almost the entire game, he made a turnaround in the last minute.
On Monday, Gustavo de Conti’s side, Gustavinho, host Mexico in Jaragua do Sul in search of rehabilitation. In this round, the duels are also going back and forth, but since they met Colombia and Uruguay in the first round, they will not need to repeat the commitments this time. The USA top Group F with Brazil tied with five wins and just one defeat this season.
The 2023 World Cup, which runs from Aug. 25 to Sept. 10, has seven spots for American teams spread across three hosts: Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia. The top three in each group are guaranteed, plus the best fourth place overall. Group E includes Canada, Argentina, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Panama and the Bahamas.
At the Coliseo Roberto Clemente, the crowd in attendance made a big noise to encourage the home team even at the entrance of the court. The order was to destabilize Brazil, at the best moment of the competition, Puerto Rico had three wins and three losses.
With the absences, Brazil started the game with Marcelinho Huertas, along with Augusto Lima, Leo Mendley, Rafael Mineiro and Didi. The experienced point guard led the selection in the absence of scorer Bruno Caboclo, an appropriation to participate in the NBA preseason with the Boston Celtics. Guy Santos, a draft pick of the champion Golden State Warriors, was also absent, as was Raulzinho of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The match started with Leo Meindl’s knife. Soon after, Didi hit three. Mistakes from both sides, however, set the stage for a lopsided game. Puerto Rico even flipped. Gustavinho got the team going early, and three balls made the difference in the fourth with five strikeouts. Brazil opened with a 24-15 run as Meindl and Augusto Lima each scored eight points.
Huertas broke the game open with a beautiful three-pointer early in the second period. But Puerto Rico was surging on counterattacks and ended up 31-30. Gustavinho had to ask for time to fix the defense and try to stop the axes of the opponents.
The break worked, and after two assists from Huertas, Brazil opened up a seven-point lead (38 to 31) in well-prepared plays, forcing the opposing commander to stop the game. There were no baskets for more than two minutes before Rafa Luz made a layup and took advantage of the extra throw for the deficit to go up by 10.
Iago made two free throws before halftime, but Brazil couldn’t stop Puerto Rico’s attack with five seconds left on the clock and still saw Ortiz make a three. Brazil went to the locker room with a score of 43:36.
Brazil came back from the break with two treys from Leo Meindl and three points from Lucas Diaz to hold off an electric Puerto Rico comeback that threatened to respond. Gustavinho’s orders were not to spare the Puerto Ricans, despite the high number of selection errors.
Despite directing and moving, Gustavinho could not calm the team down. Waters held Puerto Rico to just four points and fired up the crowd. Even in its most delicate moment of the match, Brazil was able to stay ahead, closing the fourth with a score of 59:52.
Two consecutive errors and two baskets from Puerto Rico cut the lead to three. It took Brazil 2 minutes to score the first points with Rafa Luz in the fourth. Huertas tried to get the team out of trouble with a three-point shot, but the ball seemed to burn in the hands of the Brazilians. And the advantage left with a score of 64-63.
Brazil 68 to 65 with two minutes left. Gustavinho asked the team to relax and shouted instructions. Waters tied the score with a three-pointer from long range. A move at the line by Marcelinho Huertas left Puerto Rico with a chance to take over and turn it around with the game tied at 70-70 in the final minute.
And Waters, again from three, made 73 for 70 for the hosts, who were always behind after 12 to 10. Lucas Diaz missed a three-pointer, but Brazil got the ball back anyway. Lucas Diaz was reduced to one in penalty kicks. Thompson made it 75-72 and Leo Mindl missed a shot to send the game into overtime.
These matches against Puerto Rico and Mexico serve as Brazil’s preparation for the Copa América, which will be held from September 2 to 11 in Recife.