By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last night, August 27th in Medellín, Columbia, Brazil’s national basketball team battled Puerto Rico to close out Group A action in the 2017 FIBA (International Basketball Federation) AmeriCup. For the second time in as many weeks, Brazil would be eliminated from a major basketball tournament by Puerto Rico, this time on the men’s side, losing 89-80.
On August 13th, Puerto Rico’s women’s squad eliminated Brazil from the 2017 Women’s AmeriCup and, subsequently, the 2018 Women’s World Cup.
FIBA had suspended Brazil in November 2016 from all international competitions for not fully complying with its obligations as a national member, but, in late June, the organization decided to conditionally lift the suspension.
Entering last night’s match, Brazil’s men’s squad would be without the services of talented young forward, Bruno Caboclo, who plays for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors.
According to the seleção‘s manager, Renato Lamas, Caboclo has been suspended indefinitely from the national squad following the forward’s refusal to enter the August 25th game against Columbia, despite being told to do so several times by team coaches.
Cabaclo’s presence would be missed as Puerto Rico controlled most of the first quarter, completely dominating Brazil 10-2 off fast breaks. Despite maintaining a steady five to six-point lead throughout the second quarter, Brazil would quickly come back just before the halftime break with two consecutive three pointers from Renan Lenz.
Brazil played valiantly throughout the second half, but the team’s young and inexperienced roster would start to crack late in the game. Coupled with effective free throw shooting and clutch three-point shots from Puerto Rico, it would be a hill too big to climb for the seleção, with Puerto Rico cruising to the 89-80 win.
Angel Rodriguez topped all scorers, racking up an impressive 23 points, 5 steals, and 4 rebounds. Leonardo Meindl would lead the way for the seleção with 17 points and 6 rebounds.
With the loss, Brazil closes out Group A with a 1 win, 2 loss record which eliminates them from the 2017 AmeriCup, but is good enough to keep the team in contention for a possible 2019 Pan American Games berth.
The FIBA AmeriCup features national teams from North America, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, battling for the championship and a spot in the next Pan American Games to be held in Lima, Peru in 2019.
The U.S. holds the most AmerCup championships with six titles, followed by Brazil with four, and Puerto Rico with three.