NOVI SAD (FIBA U19 World Championship) - In another thriller, a 33-5 scoring burst for Argentina either side bridging the third and fourth quarters propelled them to a 112-72 demolition of Puerto Rico.
The killer run put paid to Puerto Rico’s brief comeback bid, and also their hopes of progression to the eight-finals of the FIBA U19 World Championship.
Puerto Rico had to win to have a chance of making the next phase from Group D, but were undone by the impressive Facundo Pinero, who made five of six shots from the arc on his way to 20 points.
The Puerto Ricans started the stronger, opening up a seven-point lead at one stage.
But they ended the first period leading just 19-17, and then Argentina turned that around to lead 42-36 by the break.
The third quarter was where it really got exciting, though.
Having briefly trailed by 11 points, Puerto Rico pulled the scores back to 48-47 with 6:14 on the clock thanks to eight points - including a pair of three-pointers - in just over two minutes from Angel Luis Garcia.
That was the signal for Argentina to take off the shackles and went on their decisive run.
Before Puerto Rico knew it, the Argentina triumvirate of Pinero, Nicolas de los Santos and Sebastian Uranga had given their team a commanding 81-52 lead a few seconds into the final period.
Argentina didn’t let up, either.
Nicolas Aguirre’s two free throws took them over the 100-point mark as they extended their advantage to 39 points with 20 seconds remaining.
There was still time for Sebastien Vega to catch team-mate Pinero though as he grabbed two lay-ups and a free throw to level the individual tally at 20 points, with De los Santos and Leandro Cecchi not far behind on 18 apiece.
Josue Soto finished with 14 points for Puerto Rico.
Argentina outshone their opponents in all areas of the game, with higher percentages from two-point range and at the charity stripe.
But it was their shooting from the arc which really won it as they recorded an astounding 17 of 31 (54.8%) compared to Puerto Rico’s six of 26 (23%).
Argentina qualified in second place with five points, behind undefeated group leaders Spain but ahead of third-placed Korea.