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BASKETBALL

U.S. Puts Mexico Away Slowly

August 28, 2003|From Wire Reports

Strange things happen at international basketball tournaments, and there were plenty of them -- including Mexico being within five points of the U.S. in the second half -- on a wacky Wednesday at the Tournament of the Americas.

Mexico, which lost by 74 points to a team of U.S. professionals at the 2001 Goodwill Games, trailed, 52-47, early in the third quarter as the Americans had their sloppiest game of the Olympic qualifying tournament but won, 96-69, at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Earlier, Venezuela closed with an 18-2 run to shock Argentina, 97-92, Canada beat the Dominican Republic, 78-75, and Puerto Rico clinched a semifinal berth by defeating Brazil, 72-70.

The most shocking thing about the Mexico-U.S. game was that it didn't become a blowout until the fourth quarter. Mexico led, 26-19, after one quarter, but surrendered a 13-0 run in the second quarter and never truly had a chance to win in the second half.

Two jumpers by Allen Iverson and a fast-break layup by Jason Kidd highlighted a 10-0 run that gave the Americans a 62-47 lead, and the U.S. team eventually led by as many as 30 points.

Tim Duncan led the U.S. with 16 points.

"We had some good points in that game and some bad points," Iverson said. "We played good enough to win."

Barring a victory by Puerto Rico over the U.S. in the final game of the second round, Argentina needs to defeat the Dominican Republic today to avoid a semifinal matchup with the U.S. on Saturday.

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U.S. swingman Tracy McGrady, who has sat out the past 3 1/2 games because of back spasms, probably won't play again in the tournament. He is expected to be ready for training camp with the Orlando Magic. Over the last two NBA seasons, back spasms have kept him out of nine games.... The U.S. team, concerned about security in Puerto Rico, may balk at staying at the Olympic village in Athens during the 2004 Summer Games. Among its concerns in Puerto Rico are non-guests being allowed in the team hotel.

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