Barea leads Puerto Rico to vital victory

AFP

Dallas Mavericks point guard JJ Barea scored 19 points as Puerto Rico bounced back with a 91-61 win over Cuba, while Brazil also responded to a first-up loss.

Puerto Rico and Brazil – the two runners-up at the past two FIBA Americas - had lost their opening games in Mexico, with the former going down 91-86 to Argentina and the latter succumbing 71-57 to Uruguay.

But on Tuesday, Barea led Puerto Rico to a 30-point thumping of Cuba, ably supported by Angel Daniel Vassallo (16 points), while Marquinhos sank 17 points in Brazil's 71-65 triumph over Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico blitzed Cuba, scoring 20 points or more and keeping their opponents to less than that mark in each quarter, while Brazil surged away from Dominican Republic with a 29-16 second quarter only to hold on in the final term.

The wins were important for Brazil and Puerto Rico, who are second and third in the FIBA Americas' overall medal tally behind United States.

Puerto Rico moved to second in Group B with three points, while Brazil did the same in Group A.

Argentina lead Group B with four points after their second straight win – a 94-87 victory over Canada, while Uruguay (3) remain top of Group A despite a 78-71 loss to Panama.