Isaiah Thomas converted 21 points this Sunday with which he led the United States in their 95-90 victory over Cuba in the debut of both teams in the qualifying rounds of the Americas for the 2023 Basketball World Cup.
In Chihuahua, northern Mexico, Thomas, a former figure of the NBA’s Boston Celtics, was the key for the Americans. Jasiel Rivero stood out for Cuba, with 34 points.
Jasiel Rivero scored 17 points to lead Cuba in a first quarter in which the quintet led by Eduardo Moya beat the United States 37-27.
The Cubans were quicker on the counterattacks, took advantage of the losses of their rivals and were right on the triples to beat the Americans.
The United States grew their dominance in the paint, counting on 20 points from their substitutes to turn the game around and reach the 60-53 lead at halftime.
The Americans were led by seven points from the bench by Zavier Simpson, in addition to another four from Isaiah Thomas.
Cuba refined its inside game in the third quarter, again counting on a good performance from Rivero, who dispatched seven units, to reach the final 10 minutes 77-73 with an advantage.
While the United States was erratic in shooting from the field and fell back into misfires in their possessions by losing the ball, which led them to be down on the scoreboard.
Thomas returned to his star role in the fourth quarter and with 11 points, six of them from abroad, he helped the United States finish the game 95-90.
The Cubans missed at the key moment in their field goals and also succumbed to the rapidity of the attacks by the Americans, who constantly caught them badly positioned in the transitions.
Later Mexico and Puerto Rico, who will experience the debut of their coach Nelson Colón, will meet in their first match in Group D of the World Cup qualifiers.
Cuba will return to action on Monday when it meets Puerto Rico, as will the United States, which will challenge host Mexico. Duels in sector D are played at the Manuel Bernardo Aguirre gym in Chihuahua.
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Isaiah Thomas leads United States to triumph over Cuba in qualifying rounds