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Puerto Rico seals last Top 16 seat for Group B with rout of China

Tremont Waters came alive for Puerto Rico in a must-win against China. Kennelf Monteza
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Puerto Rico formalized its entry to the FIBA World Cup Round of 16 by blasting China, 107-89, in the final game for Group B play on Wednesday night in front of 7,166 fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Needing only a win to advance, Puerto Rico did so in style, slowly but surely dominating China in the first half en route to a 52-37 halftime lead.

China played brilliantly in the third quarter to cut the lead down to nine, 78-69, entering the fourth, but Puerto Rico bounced back mightily in the fourth quarter to seal the rout.

Tremont Waters led Puerto Rico, which completes the cast for Group I along with Serbia, the Dominican Republic, and Italy, with 22 points, three rebounds, six assists, and four steals.

Ismael Romero added 18 points and 10 rebounds as Puerto Rico also relegated South Sudan to the classification games--and a Thursday night clash with Gilas Pilipinas virtually without rest.

Zhao Jiwei led China, which will face Angola also on Thursday night in its own consolation game, with 14 points, one rebound, five assists, and one steal.

The result also means a showdown between China and Gilas for potentially an outright seat in the Paris Olympics is set on Saturday night.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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