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USA Basketball pulls away, tops Cuba 87-64

HAVANA (AP) – There were some chants of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the NBA game in Cuba on Independence Day.

Then the Americans celebrated the holiday with a big victory.

Xavier Monford scored 24 points and the United States beat Cuba 87-64 on Monday night to wrap up the first round of qualifying for next year’s Basketball World Cup — improving to an all-time 31-1 against the island nation.

“It’s emotional to be playing on the Fourth of July. It’s touching to be here with this group of players, with the United States all around,” said Jim Boylin, who coached the United States in all three windows of the opening qualifying round. our chests. It’s a great day. Our country is 246 years old today and we are grateful for this moment together.”

Munford was 10-for-12 from the floor for the Americans, who had 13 points from Justin Jackson, 12 from John Jenkins – all from a 3-point range – and 10 points from Will Davis and Langston Galloway.

“It’s the Fourth of July. There’s no better feeling than a win tonight,” Munford said.

Jordan Peele finished with eight rebounds and six assists for the Americans, who secured their spot in the playoff second round. They will take the record 5-1 in the second round, are on their way to claiming a place at the World Cup and are close to a big step toward USA Basketball’s qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Yoel Copella led Cuba (0-6) with 15 points.

The Americans will begin the second round of World Cup qualifiers on August 25, with the first game expected to be against Uruguay in Las Vegas. The United States will also play on August 29, most likely on the road and likely against Colombia, although this was not confirmed by FIBA ​​as the match.

The two winning paths on this journey — the Americans beat Puerto Rico on Friday — put the United States in a prime position to qualify for the World Cup. The roster consisted primarily of G League players, as is always the case with Americans in World Cup qualifiers, and Boylen said that group came together quickly.

“We got together 11 days ago and our squad was focused, our squad was great, we worked on the basics, we got better every day and I thought we played the right way,” Boylen said. “The ball moved, we grew up together, we took care of each other.”

The United States will play along with Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Colombia in the second round. Venezuela, Argentina, Panama, Canada, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas will also be grouped from the Americas region.

Both groups would send three teams to the World Cup; The fourth best team from either group will also go, with the Americas region sending seven teams to the tournament, which will take place in the summer of 2023 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.

Cuba led 16-14 after the first quarter of Monday night. That is, until the Americans scored 14 points in the first 2:19 of the second quarter.

“We lost the first quarter, but I thought we responded in the second,” Boylen said.

Jackson opened the three-pointer in the second quarter, putting the US forever ahead, and the Americans were running. The lead was 49-32 early in the third – ending what had been a US-run 35-16 – and the Americans stayed ahead the rest of the way.

They came out with a great effort. They made us work for it. They had strong guys. We played really well tonight. We executed, took care of the ball, attacked and played USA style in basketball,” Munford said.

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More AP Sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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