AUCKLAND (FIBA U19 World Championship) - Puerto Rican point guard Jio Fontan has hit the game winning shot with 2.6 seconds to play, lifting his team over Canada, 67-65, and into the playoff for 5th spot at the FIBA U19 World Championship.
After Canadian captain Kelly Olynk had connected on two free throws to tie the game with 23 seconds remaining, Puerto Rico cleared the floor for Fontan who duly delivered on a tough drive.
Earlier, it appeared Mangisto Arop had set up a Canadian victory, leading them back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit. He scored 8 points in five minutes and found Olynk under the basket as Canada took a 63-61 lead with 3:01 to play.
Canada led 20-18 at quarter time, after claiming 15 boards to 6, and the trend continued in the second period. Canada pulled down 15 offensive boards to lead the half time rebound count 29-17.
For Puerto Rico, their free shooting in the open court, led by Jio Fontan, was enough to keep their country within one at half time, 34-35.
The Central Americans stepped it up on the boards after half time with Kevin Young grabbing 5 rebounds for the quarter, and Carlos Lopez 5 points and 3 boards.
When Young dunked in style to start the last quarter Puerto Rico led 57-47 and seemed on their way before Arop stepped in to almost steal the game for Canada.
Arop finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds, and was helped by Tristan Thompson, who recorded 13 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes. Canada face France in the playoff for 7th position on Sunday at 11:00am.
For Puerto Rico, Fontan was superb with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Their other game winners were Young (9 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Lopez (7 points, 10 rebounds , 4 blocks), whose performances on the boards against the big Canadians were decisive.
Puerto Rico play Argentina for 5th place at 1:30pm.
Carlos Lopez, Puerto Rico :
“The coach was mad at us in the (half time) locker room. If we are going to play against a good team we have to rebound. I talked to Kevin (Young) and we decided to go at everything and give 100%, it was like a gold medal game right here.
It’s tough (bouncing back after loss to Croatia), because we were right there with them last night. You try to not think about it. We had a meeting at the hotel and decided that we just have to play, we have nothing to lose, and we are in the top six teams in the world now.
Everybody trusts Jio, he’s our point guard. We told him just make a move and we’ve got you, if you miss we’ll be there for you. It’s about trusting. If you trust your teammate he’s going to trust you back and you’ll have a great team.”