WASHINGTON (AP) — USA Basketball is off to a rolling start in the qualifying for next year’s FIBA AmeriCup.
Kyle Fogg scored 18 points, Justin Anderson added 17 and the U.S. defeated Puerto Rico 95-73 on Sunday to improve to 2-0 in the qualifiers.
As was the case on Thursday, when the Americans opened with a win over Puerto Rico in San Juan, they never trailed. The U.S. scored the game’s first seven points, built a 26-11 lead by the end of the first quarter, went up 23 just before halftime and eventually led by as many as 29.
Jalen Jones scored 14 points, Joshua Maggette had 11 and Eric Mika added 10 for the Americans. The difference was 3-point shooting, with the Americans going 16 for 36 from beyond the arc while Puerto Rico was 6 for 24.
Isaiah Piniero and Isaac Sosa each scored 15 points for Puerto Rico, which got 12 from Gary Browne.
The two wins in this window of qualifying virtually ensures that the U.S. — which is being coached by Mike Fratello for these games, with a roster composed mostly of G League players — will qualify for the AmeriCup. All that’s required to make that field is to finish third or better in a four-team division; besides the U.S. and Puerto Rico, the other teams in that group are Mexico and the Bahamas.
There are four divisions in qualifying. Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Argentina are in Group A; Brazil, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay are in Group B; Canada, Cuba, the Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic are in Group C; and the division that includes the U.S. is Group D. Of those 16 teams, 12 will qualify for the AmeriCup, scheduled to be played in August 2021.
Qualifying will not resume until Nov. 27 when the U.S. plays host to the Bahamas in Washington, in the game that could officially clinch the AmeriCup berth. The U.S. plays Mexico on Nov. 30, also in Washington. And then the Americans will hit the road for the final window of qualifying, going to the Bahamas on Feb. 18, 2021 and closing with a game at Mexico on Feb. 21, 2021.
The AmeriCup qualifying is the first step in a long process toward making the fields for the 2023 Basketball World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympics. Only the host nations — the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia for the next World Cup, and France for the 2024 Olympics — automatically qualify for those tournaments. All other nations must graduate through a series of other tournaments, such as the AmeriCup, to make those fields.