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Alt 30.08.2018, 04:27
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Standard up as far as skaters.

Jeff Van Gundy warned the Americans that they were in for a serious challenge.

To his chagrin Authentic Brent Burns Jersey , he was right, and the U.S. was handed a rare loss.

Francisco Cruz scored 24 points, Mexico opened with an 18-0 run and went on to beat the United States 78-70 on Thursday night in a qualifying game for next year’s FIBA World Cup.

According to USA Basketball, it was just the second loss by the U.S. in 30 games against Mexico – with the other defeat coming in the 2011 Pan Am Games.

Orlando Mendez-Valdez added 20 points for Mexico, which held the U.S. scoreless for the first 5:51 and forced the Americans into missing their first 10 shots from the floor.

”Mexico dominated us from the start and that’s on me,” Van Gundy said. ”We were not ready to compete at the level Mexico did. Give them all the credit, they played a great, great game.”

Marcus Thornton scored 14 points for the U.S., which is using a roster composed primarily of G League players for the qualifying rounds. Xavier Munford added 11 points while David Stockton and Reggie Hearn each had 10 for the Americans.

The U.S. lost for the first time in 10 contests under Van Gundy, who is coaching this team that’s tasked with getting the team of NBA stars that will be coached by Gregg Popovich to the World Cup.

”We can’t underestimate how hard it is going to be to play on the road, at altitude, and against a team desperate to qualify for the FIBA World Cup,” Van Gundy said leading up to the game. ”We have to make sure we match that type of intensity and passion that we know they’ll bring.”

By the time the U.S. found its stride, it was already in deep trouble. Mexico led 31-10 after the first quarter Authentic Troy Apke Jersey , then staved off a big second-half rally try by the U.S.

Trey McKinney-Jones‘ basket late in the third quarter capped a 15-1 run and put the U.S. within 53-51. Thornton made a pair of 3-pointers about a minute apart in that burst, and Hearn’s 3-pointer early in the fourth cut Mexico’s lead to 56-54.

But the U.S. never got the lead.

”In the second half we competed at a high level and that high level got us back in the game, but we just couldn’t get over the hump,” Van Gundy said.

The Americans (4-1) – who have already ensured themselves a spot in the second round of qualifying that starts in September – end the first-round series of games Sunday when they go to Havana to face Cuba (0-5). It’ll be the first time a U.S. men’s national team has played in Havana since the 1991 Pan American Games. Mexico (3-2) also wraps up its first round on Sunday, when it plays at Puerto Rico (3-2).

David Huertas had 18 points, Angel Rodriguez and JJ Barea each had 15 and Puerto Rico rallied in the fourth quarter in another qualifying game Thursday to top Cuba 84-80.

Under FIBA’s new qualifying format, teams are playing home-and-home games against teams in their region to earn places in the World Cup in China, which begins on Aug. 31, 2019. That tournament will qualify seven teams for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

This was the first time the U.S. played a true road game during this tournament. The Americans opened qualifying in November with an 85-78 win in what was a ”home” game for Puerto Rico – but the contest was actually played in Orlando, Florida because of continued problems in San Juan following Hurricane Maria.

And this was very much a real road atmosphere.

Not only was the game played at Mexico City’s 7,500-foot altitude, but in a filled 5,000-seat arena that Mexican officials said sold out in only 45 minutes.

The tone was set by the U.S. turning the ball over on each of its first three possessions, and Mexico was off and running.

The U.S. routed Mexico back in November http://www.jaguarsauthorizedshops.co...n-bryan-jersey , winning by 36 points.

That was a very different Mexico team.

Only four players from the Mexican roster then were in uniform on Thursday night, with the team now able to add those who were playing in their various professional leagues and unable to take part when the qualifying rounds began. Cruz and Mendez-Valdez each had 13 points by halftime, and Gustavo Ayon was a big factor even without big numbers – four points, four rebounds and five assists by the break.

If their names are familiar to U.S. basketball aficionados, it’s for good reason.

Ayon appeared in 135 NBA games in parts of three seasons with four different franchises, and just helped Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid win the EuroLeague. Mendez-Valdez was part of the Western Kentucky team that went to the Sweet Sixteen in 2008, and he won the Sun Belt’s player of the year award in the following season. Cruz played at Wyoming and has played in pro leagues in Mexico, Latvia, Argentina and Spain.

PITTSBURGH — It could be a trap game Saturday for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they host the Montreal Canadiens at PPG Paints Arena.

The Penguins (44-28-6) have not officially clinched a playoff spot and are clawing for positioning in the tight Metropolitan Division yet are a somewhat pedestrian 5-3-2 in their past 10 games.

In addition, they have a showdown with Washington, first in the Metro, on Sunday.

Pittsburgh has had some trouble lately playing soundly against opponents that are out of playoff contention, with losses the past three weeks against the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings.

However Chad Thomas Color Rush Jersey , this will be the Penguins’ third game in March against Montreal, another also-ran club, and they have won the first two, both by 5-3. They will be going for their second-ever season series sweep of Canadiens and have won four straight and six of seven in the series.

What the Penguins are hoping for is a repeat of those two recent matchups with the Canadiens. Better yet, they would like to have a performance like the one they turned in Thursday with a gritty 4-3 overtime win against Metro foe New Jersey.

“This was our best 60-minute game in a long time,” Pittsburgh winger Patric Hornqvist, who is one goal shy of 200 for his career, said of the win over the Devils. “It’s the way we have to play from now on.”

Montreal (28-37-12) is 4-8-2 this month, but it isn’t looking to serve as some sort of a tune-up for the Penguins before their game against the Capitals.

The Canadiens, who have been off since Monday, a 4-2 win over Detroit, are finding motivation by looking to the future and are giving a handful of young players a chance to prove themselves.

“Those guys are still working out kinks in their game and improving,” winger Paul Byron said Friday after practice and before the team’s flight to Pittsburgh. “There are a lot of positives I see on our team right now. That’s why it’s so important to finish strong. Anything you do now kind of leads into next year.”

Everything the Canadiens do will be watched closely by management.

“I don’t think anybody’s evaluation is done,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “It’s important that they prove that they’re fighters.

“I want to see character — not just the evaluation of the player on the ice Youth Bradley Chubb Jersey , but what kind of character does he have? Is he a guy who’s going to fight to the end, or is he a guy who’s going to mail it in and say, ‘Let’s get these games over with?’ It means a lot. Not just from young players, but from veterans, too.”

Julien said backup Antti Niemi, who began the season with Pittsburgh, will start rather than No. 1 goaltender Carey Price.

Montreal could get defenseman David Schlemko back from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him for 12 games. He has medical clearance, but Julien has not decided on his lineup as far as skaters.

“You definitely want to be battling with the guys and on the ice,” Schlemko said. “Hockey’s a lot more fun when you’re playing games instead of bag skating by yourself. I’ve been working for weeks now on the ice to get back, so I’m definitely excited and chomping at the bit.”

The Penguins could get center Derick Brassard back after he missed the New Jersey game because of a lower-body injury.
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