Fiba World Cup: Puerto Rico through to second round after rout of China | Inquirer Sports

Fiba World Cup: Puerto Rico through to second round after rout of China

/ 11:43 PM August 30, 2023

Puerto Rico's Tremont Waters in their game against China in the Fiba World Cup.

Puerto Rico’s Tremont Waters in their game against China in the Fiba World Cup. –FIBA BASKETBALL

MANILA, Philippines — Puerto Rico banked on the tandem of Tremont Waters and Ismael Romero to clinch a second-round berth with a 107-89 victory over the winless China in the Fiba World Cup 2023 on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Waters paced the balanced attack of the Puerto Ricans as he rose to the occasion in the must-win game with 22 points, six assists, four steals, and three rebounds, while Romero scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and grabbed 10 rebounds to finish with a 2-1 record in Group B.


“Obviously we had a tough game against Serbia and we just want to come out and build on what we did against Serbia. We just tried to stay together and obviously we’re gonna have ups and downs but as long as we stay together, everything’s gonna take care of itself,” Waters told reporters. “I’m just trying to help my team win. This is not about me. It’s about Puerto Rico.”


Puerto Rico joined Group B sweeper Serbia in the second round, where it battles the unbeaten Dominican Republic (3-0) and Italy (2-1).

“It’s a big opportunity to go to the second round. We did the job [against China] so now we focus on the next round,” said Romero, who converted the pick and roll plays of Waters in the fourth quarter.

Puerto Rico's Ismael Romero Fiba World Cup

Puerto Rico’s Ismael Romero. –Marlo Cueto/

China fought back from an 18-point deficit in the first half, catching fire in the third quarter to trim a 75-59 deficit with a 10-3 run capped by Zhao Jiwei’s buzzer-beating triple to move within nine, 78-69, heading to the payoff period.

Waters and Romero were nearly unstoppable with their pick and roll plays, starting the fourth quarter with a 13-6 run with a 91-75 lead with 4:44 left. George Conditt sank a jumper to give Puerto Rico its biggest lead of 21 points, 102-81, putting away the game with 49 seconds remaining as China ended up winless in three games from their group.

Christopher Ortiz set the tone for the Puerto Ricans in the first half, finishing with 13 points. Conditt chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds. Josh Howard contributed 11 points, five assists, and four rebounds, while Stephen Thompson Jr. also added 11 markers.

China will be relegated to the classification phase with South Sudan, which was eliminated by the former’s defeat, battling Gilas Pilipinas and Angola.


Zhao Rui led the Chinese with 16 points. Jiwei had 14 points and five assists, while Hu Mingxuan and Fu Hao added 12 and 11 markers, respectively.

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TAGS: China, Fiba World Cup, Puerto Rico

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