USA saw Puerto Rico shoot 61 percent from the field to jump out to a 27-20 lead after one. USA would begin their rally in the second quarter. Thanks to their suffocating defense, USA held Puerto Rico to 38 percent shooting from the field in the quarter, while the 3-point shooting from Matthew Ryan (Grand Rapids Gold/ Chattanooga) as well as the surgical scoring from former NBA All Star Joe Johnson, helped USA make it a two point deficit at the half, 44-42. From then on it was all USA. USA elevated their defensive intensity even more in the third quarter, outscoring Puerto Rico 32-14 in the period to take a 74-58 lead. USA never looked back, picking up their second win in FIBA World Cup Qualifying play.
Joe Johnson led the USA with 18 points, Matthew Ryan added 15 points on 5-8 shooting from deep. Justin Wright Foreman (Birmingham Squadron/Hofstra) posted 13 points, Juwan Morgan (Maine Celtics/Indiana) added 12 points and Jordan Bell stuffed the stat sheet with 8 points, team high 8 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals on 4-6 shooting from the field.
Joe Johnson (Pictured Above): validated his Iso Joe reputation even at his wise age of 40 years old. He got to his spots on the floor and made Puerto Rico pay with some timely shot making, tying for a game high 18 points on 7-11 shooting from the field, while dishing out 4 assists and grabbing 3 rebounds. In fact, Johnson didn't miss his first shot until late in the third quarter. Johnson was also excellent as a secondary ball handler when Puerto Rico pressed full court. His poise with the ball, always being under control, helped USA's guards slow down when Puerto Rico tried to speed them up with full court pressure. Once Johnson got into a rhythm, Puerto Rico sent double AND triple teams to try to not only get the ball out of his hands, but to speed him up into potentially turning the ball over. It didn't work. Johnson didn't turn the ball over once. It was the type of performance one would and should expect from Iso Joe.
I felt was the x-factor in the game for USA, especially defensively. Bell versatility as a defender was on full display in USA's win over Puerto Rico. He did an excellent job rebounding the ball despite being on the smaller side at 6'7, grabbing a game high 8 rebounds, yet, he also shined at defending Puerto Ricos bigs on the block as well as being able to switch out on Puerto Rico's guards and get stops. Bell was all over the place, finishing with a game high 3 blocks and tying for a game high 3 steals. It's the type of defensive effort and execution USA will need moving forward and one I'm confident Bell can continue to bring.
Justin Wright Foreman:
was efficient on BOTH ends. His two way impact was a beautiful thing to see. Foreman hit shots from all over the floor, posting 13 points on 5-8 shooting from the field and 3-5 from 3-point range. Yet, his defense on Puerto Rico point guard Gary Browne in the third quarter was his biggest contribution. After Browne hit up USA for 12 first half points, he only managed 4 points in the second half. A big reason for that was Wright Foreman's pressure defense. All of this came in just 18 minutes of game action. Again, a hell of a performance from Justin Wright Foreman.