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USA vs Puerto Rico
Kobe BYANT (USA). Semi-Finals round of the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, Las Vegas, USA. 01 September 2007.
01/09/2007United States 135 vs Puerto Rico 91

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LAS VEGAS (2007 FIBA Americas Championship) - In the game that defined the last spot available for Beijing 2008, United States faced Puerto Rico and what's been the history throughout the tournament, repeated itself. At the end, USA remained undefeated with record of 9-0, and became, with Argentina, one of the only two teams from the Americas with tickets to the Olympic Games Beijing 2008.

The first quarter opened with a quick basket by Carlos Arroyo from Puerto Rico. From that moment on, both teams exchanged leads until the minute 5:44, when a lay-up by LeBron James put Team USA in front 14-11.The first quarter ended with the local team in front, 33-27.

A jump shot by Kobe Bryant opened the second quarter, and ignited a rally of 10-3 which put USA in front for the rest of the half. A great move by Jose Barea against Carmelo Anthony stopped the rally with 7:11 in the clock. The main figures on the first half were: Carlos Arroyo with 8 points and 4 assists in 11:40 played; and Kobe Bryant for USA with 12 points in almost 14 minutes of action; the first half finished 57 - 42 in favor of USA.

Carmelo Anthony opened the third quarter on fire, shooting for a mesmerizing 4-4 from the three-point line, all this in the first three minutes of play. While USA displayed great passing and confidence, Puerto Rico's offense became erratic, falling behind on the score by 31 with 2:30 remaining. The quarter finished 100 - 70, USA in front.

The opening minutes of the fourth quarter were a continuation of the third, but with another character. Michael Redd scored 4 straight three-pointers, which proved to be the last blow to Puerto Rico's hopes. USA extended their lead after a rally of 21-2 in the first 5 minutes of action. From there, it was all USA's quick-hitting and pompous style. With 1:54 to play, the lead was 46 points. At the end, the game finished with score of 135 - 91.

For USA, Anthony finished the game with 27 points (shooting for 6-7 from the three-point line and 5-6 from the free throw line). Redd scored 23 (15 of them came in the fourth quarter only).

Arroyo finished the game with 21 points and 5 assists, while Ayuso scored 22 points in the loss.

Tomorrow, USA will face Argentina (4:00 p.m. Pacific Time), in the game for the gold medal. Hours before, Puerto Rico will face Brazil tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. (Pacific Time).

Nestor Rodriguez

FIBA Americas