U.S. Team Tops Puerto Rico, Clinches Spot in Semifinals
Posted Aug 29 2007 1:55AM
United States 117, Puerto Rico 78
LAS VEGAS, Aug. 28, 2007 -- The Americans made Athens look like ancient history.
Three years after its stunning loss in the Olympics, the United States smothered Puerto Rico in a 117-78 victory Tuesday night in the FIBA Americas tournament.
Puerto Rico handed the United States a 92-73 loss, its worst ever, in the 2004 games. Current U.S. stars Anthony, James and Amare Stoudemire were all in Greece and watched Carlos Arroyo and the rest of the Puerto Ricans torch the Americans for 56 percent shooting.
The Americans ended any hopes of a repeat with their latest sensational second quarter and remained unbeaten in this event. They came in just about at the 117.6 points they were averaging coming into the game.
The United States plays Uruguay on Wednesday before closing second-round play Thursday night against follow unbeaten Argentina. But even with losses in those two games, the Americans would still be guaranteed a spot Saturday.
Arroyo fouled out in the third quarter with 12 points -- half his total that sparked the Olympic upset.
The Puerto Ricans then gave the Americans another tough test last year in the world championships, shooting 54 percent and trailing by only six at halftime of a 111-100 loss. They looked as if they would make things difficult again Tuesday for about 9 minutes, then were run off the floor during another sensational second quarter by the Americans.
The United States held the Puerto Ricans without a field goal for 6½ minutes to open the period, outscoring them 22-4 to turn an 11-point lead into a 48-19 bulge on Anthony's 3-pointer with 3:47 remaining in the first half. Arroyo made a 3 about 20 seconds later, ending Puerto Rico's 0-for-8 drought.
The Americans were 7-of-11 from 3-point range in the quarter, limited the Puerto Ricans to just three field goals in 17 attempts, and led 59-27 at the break.
U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski returned to the starting lineup he used for the first four games, reinserting Jason Kidd and Dwight Howard in place of Chauncey Billups and Amare Stoudemire. Kidd improved to 40-0 in senior team competitions for the United States.
The Americans also got back reserve forward Tayshaun Prince after he missed Monday's victory over Mexico with a sprained left ankle.
Larry Ayuso scored 13 points for Puerto Rico, which plays Venezuela on Wednesday.