SYDNEY — Puerto Rico is in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Basketball World Cup for the first time.
Mya Hollingshed signed 29 points and Arella Guirantes added 18 as the Puerto Ricans defeated South Korea 92-73 on Tuesday in the final day of the group stage.
Puerto Rico (2-3) scored the last 18 points of the game, 10 by Hollingshed, to finally take off. The Caribbean quintet grabbed the last place that remained to be defined with a view to the quarterfinals that will begin on Thursday.
“I put them all in,” Hollingshed said. “I looked up (at the scoreboard) and they still didn’t score.”
After the final buzzer sounded, the Puerto Ricans began to dance on the court as they celebrated their classification.
Also Tuesday, the United States swept Bosnia and Herzegovina 121-59; China defeated Belgium 81-55; Canada beat Mali 88-65; Serbia beat France 68-62; and Australia beat Japan 71-54.
The United States and Australia finished in first place of the two groups. China and Canada came second. Belgium and Serbia finished third, while France and Puerto Rico finished fourth.
FIBA held a draw to define the crosses in the direct elimination phase and the table was as follows: Puerto Rico-Canada, United States-Serbia, China-France and Australia-Belgium.
Aside from winning the tournament for the first time in the country’s history, the Puerto Rican players and coaching staff were looking for a spot in the quarterfinals to bring some joy to an island that was recently hit by Hurricane Fiona.
“We have made history, with everything that the country is going through with the hurricane. It is monumental and I hope it brings some happiness to the country. That’s all we want, that basketball brings some joy”, said Tayra Meléndez.
The Puerto Ricans succumbed in their three games at the 2018 World Cup, losing by an average of almost 28 points. They weren’t even supposed to be in Australia, but they got the place when Russia was kicked out after the invasion of Ukraine.
“This has enormous significance given everything that’s going on on the island,” Hollingshed said. “With everything that people are dealing with right now, we came out to play for more than just us. People are excited and cheer us on.”
Kelsey Plum scored 20 points and Chelsea Gray added 16 as the Americans set a national team record for consecutive World Cup wins.
It was the 27th straight World Cup victory for the United States. They haven’t lost since the 2006 semi-finals against Russia. The Soviet Union holds the record with 56 consecutive victories between 1959-86.
The United States (5-0) won its group stage games with an average margin of 46.2 points. He was never down on the scoreboard.
Mali (0-5) said goodbye to the tournament with a full defeat that averaged 30 points per game.
FIBA has opened an investigation into an altercation between two Malian players in the mixed zone after the loss to Serbia on Monday. The fight between companions Salimatou Kourouma and Kamite Elisabeth Dabou occurred when they were traveling in the area and was filmed by the Serbian press.
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Historic advance of Puerto Rico to the quarterfinals in the Women’s Basketball World Cup