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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 12, 2024


July 12, 2001 — TOLUCA, Mexico – The Puerto Ricans put their best foot forward at the expense of the Virgin Islands national basketball team.
Puerto Rico, which had the service of the country's NBA player, used an 18-2 run to start the game and finished with a 98-70 victory over the Virgin Islands in the opening day of the Centro Basket Tournament.
Puerto Rico is taking the regional basketball tournament seriously. The Commonwealth had a roster which includes 7-foot NBA player Daniel Santiago of the Phoenix Suns.
"This is an important tournament for us," said Puerto Rico veteran forward Jerome Mincy. "That is why we have a mix of older guys with the younger ones."
Puerto Rico scored the first 10 points of the game. After it built an 18-2 lead, the Virgin Islands went on 9-3 run to cut the deficit to 21-11. But ten points were as close at the Virgin Islands came. Puerto Rico went on late-second quarter spurt to take a 55-33 lead at intermission.
The Virgin Islands scored the first seven points of the second half, but each time the VI tried to rally, Puerto Rico answered with Carmelo Travieso’s outside shooting and Santiago’s inside domination.
"We know the Virgin Islands always come to play us tough," Mincy said, recalling the Virgin Islands’ upset of Puerto Rico in the 1998 Central American and Caribbean Games.
V.I. Coach Tevester Anderson substituted repeatedly throughout the first half as his starters seemed out of breath. Toluca is the highest city in Mexico and many of the athletes complained of being short of breath.
"We showed a lot of heart by not giving up," said V.I. guard Calvert White. "But some of our players were short on breath. When Puerto Rico went back to their bench, they had an oxygen tank. We didn’t have anything."
The Virgin Islands is playing without its NBA players Raja Bell and David Vanterpool. Virgin Islands 7-footer Jaja Richards is also bypassing the Centro Basket Tournament to compete in a NBA Summer League.
The top four teams in the Centro Basketball Tournament will advance to the Tournament of Americas in Argentina.
The Virgin Islands needs a victory Thursday against the Dominican Republic and another win on Friday against Honduras to reach the semifinals.
The Dominican Republic beat Honduras 101-75 in the bracket's other game on Wednesday.
"This is a must-win situation for us," White said of Thursday’s game against the Dominican Republic. "We have to come out and execute. This was the game to get the kinks out."

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