Mexico shocks Puerto Rico; Brazil, Uruguay collect narrow wins
LAS VEGAS -- Victor Mariscal scored 30 points, 22 in the first half, leading coach Nolan Richardson and Mexico to a 100-89 victory over Puerto Rico on Wednesday in the FIBA Americas tournament.
With a strong defensive effort that held Puerto Rico star Carlos Arroyo without a field goal, Mexico pulled away after the Puerto Ricans rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to grab a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Richardson said he wasn't surprised that his team pulled off the upset.
"This group has worked extremely hard," Richardson said.
"We've been in the hottest gyms and highest altitudes. When you have guys like that, that are that dedicated, you know you have a good team. But this is still the beginning. We still have several games to go."
Mexico didn't play much of Richardson's famed "40 Minutes of Hell" pressure defense that sparked Arkansas to the 1994 NCAA title, but didn't need to because Puerto Rico was having enough trouble with the Mexicans' active zone.
Puerto Rico got back into it late in the third behind Angelo Reyes, who scored eight points in the final 1:44 to make it 76-73 heading to the fourth.
Arroyo, who plays for the Orlando Magic, was 0-for-10 from the field and scored four points.
Puerto Rico got bad news after the game when Dallas Mavericks guard Jose Juan Barea was suspended two games by FIBA for cursing at the referees and fouling out late in the third quarter. He won't be eligible to return until Puerto Rico's final game of pool play Saturday against Uruguay.
In other action on Wednesday:
Brazil 75, Canada 67
Barbosa, the NBA's top sixth man last season, helped Brazil finally shake free by hitting two free throws and adding a floater, pushing the lead to 69-62 with 2:26 left.
Brazil had an early 13-point lead after a 17-0 run, but Canada fought back late in the second quarter and the game remained close the rest of the way.
Brazil nearly beat the United States in an exhibition game last summer, and could be one of the only teams in the 10-team tournament field capable of testing the Americans. They meet Sunday night to close pool play.
Uruguay 88, Panama 84 (OT)
Esteban Batista scored 26 points, including the basket that forced overtime with under two seconds left in regulation, and Uruguay rallied to beat Panama in the opening game of the FIBA Americas tournament.
Batista, who played 70 games for the Atlanta Hawks over the last two seasons, also grabbed 19 rebounds. His basket with 1:54 left in overtime gave Uruguay the lead for good at 81-79.
Uruguay erased a 15-point deficit thanks to woeful Panama shooting. Panama missed 16 of 19 3-pointers and was 17-of-36 at the foul line.
Jaime Lloreda scored 21 points, but Panama couldn't hold on after the former LSU forward fouled out with a little more than 5 minutes remaining in regulation. Danilo Pinnock, who played at George Washington, had 16 points.
Panama led by 15 points in the first half and was ahead 45-34 at halftime behind Lloreda, who had 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting. But Uruguay dominated the third quarter, outscoring Panama 24-11 to take a 58-56 lead into the fourth.
Uruguay faces reigning Olympic gold medalist Argentina on Thursday in another Group A matchup. Panama will play Puerto Rico.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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