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Wednesday November 30, 2022

Puerto Rico make women’s World Cup quarters

By AFP
September 28, 2022

SYDNEY: Favourites the United States will face Serbia in the women’s basketball World Cup quarter-finals after hitting three figures for the second straight match Tuesday, while Puerto Rico take on Canada after making the knockouts for the first time.

China play France in the last eight and hosts Australia meet Belgium.

Three-time defending champions USA were the only unbeaten team in the preliminary phase, winning all five games and surpassing 100 points in three of them.

After a World Cup record-setting 145-69 romp over South Korea on Monday, they beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 121-59 to reinforce their standing as overwhelming favourites for an 11th title overall.

“It’s phenomenal to see how many people (know) how talented we are,” said Kelsey Plum, who scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. “I mean, just one through 12 you know. It’s just been a lot of fun.”

They finished top of Group A with their reward a clash with Serbia as they look to extend a 27-game unbeaten World Cup run.

Mya Hollingshed drilled a game-high 29 points and 12 rebounds for Puerto Rico as they pulled off a “fairytale” 92-73 win over South Korea on the final day of group matches at the 10-day tournament in Sydney.

Defeat consigned the Koreans to an early exit as 17th-ranked Puerto Rico progressed with two wins from five in Group A, taking the initiative to open an 18-point lead after the first quarter.

The Koreans, missing injured marquee star Park Ji-su, battled back in much tighter second and third quarters and came out on top in the fourth, but their slow start was fatal.

“Obviously very proud of our team, we have a mix of young players with veteran players,” said Puerto Rico coach Jerry Batista. “So for us who have been here for a couple of years working and trying to develop Puerto Rico basketball, it is so great.

“It is like a fairytale... it shows that if you work, you can achieve everything,” he added.

Arella Guirantes has been a standout with her exceptional performances helping steer Puerto Rico to the play-offs in only their second World Cup, having failed to win a game at their first tournament in 2018.

The ever-dangerous shooting guard finished with 18 points, five rebounds and five assists.

They next play fourth-ranked Canada who beat winless Mali 88-65, a team in disarray after two of their players were caught on camera fighting each other in a media zone after their loss on Monday.

Footage showed Salimatou Kourouma throwing at least three punches at teammate Kamite Elisabeth Dabou as other Mali players rushed to intervene, with governing body FIBA opening a disciplinary investigation.

They both fronted the media after the Canada defeat to apologise.

“We were frustrated because of the loss and we’re here to apologise to the whole of the FIBA basketball World Cup,” said Dabou.

An impressive China swept past Belgium 81-55 to secure second spot in Pool A with Li Meng leading the way with 16 points and three assists.

They play France for a place in the semi-finals, after the French lost their final group game to Serbia 68-62 and finished fourth in Group B.

Australia, the beaten 2018 finalists, shook off a rocky start to the tournament to win four in a row and top Group B after cruising past Japan 71-54.

The Japanese lost four-from-five games and failed to qualify, a shadow of the side that took silver at their home Olympics in Tokyo.

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