SYDNEY (AP) – Arella Guirantes’ tremendous effort helped Puerto Rico make history with its first victory at the Women’s Basketball World Cup.
Guirantes had 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists to lead Puerto Rico to an 82-58 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Thursday’s tournament opener.
“Right now I’m speechless because we’ve been grinding together so much,” she said. “It feels great to pull off the win on such a great stage.”
In other games on Thursday, the USA beat Belgium 87-72; Canada beat Serbia 67-60, and Japan beat Mali 89-56. South Korea faced China and hosts Australia met France in later games.
Puerto Rico played in its first World Cup in 2018 and went without a win in three games at the tournament. The country was also winless at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.
“This is a great victory for us. We didn’t win a single game in the last world tournament,” Puerto Rico coach Jerry Batista said. “We are very excited and happy about it.”
The win comes at a difficult time for Puerto Rico as the island tries to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona earlier this week.
“I know you are going through a difficult time. … We’ve been through this before, so I know everyone in the community is going to lean on each other and help each other. Take care,” said security guard Jennifer O’Neill.
Puerto Rico raced to a 31-16 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. The 31 points were the most the country has scored in a period in its short World Cup history.
In other games on Thursday:
USA 87, BELGIUM 72
Breanna Stewart scored 22 points and Alyssa Thomas had 14 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in her American debut
The Americans jumped out to a quick 12-0 lead before Belgium settled down to get within one. The USA extended its lead again behind Stewart and Lloyd and took a 48-39 halftime lead. The Americans went on a 12-4 run in the third quarter and put the game away.
Julie Vanloo scored 13 points to lead Belgium.
CANADA 67, SERBIA 60
Kayla Alexander scored 13 points and Nira Fields 12 to help Canada beat Serbia in the opener.
Trailing by one after the first quarter, the Canadians outscored Serbia 23-12 in the second quarter to take the lead and never looked back.
Kia Nurse, who missed the entire WNBA season while recovering from a torn ACL suffered in October 2021, had nine points in 19 minutes.
Yvon Anderson scored 18 points to lead Serbia.
JAPAN 89, MALI 56
Aika Hirashita scored 17 points, hitting five 3-pointers, and Stephanie Mawuli added 14 to help the Olympic silver medalists win their opener.
Japan led just 21-18 after one quarter before taking control in the second period with a 26-11 advantage. Japan continued to extend its lead in the third quarter and held on until the end.
Djeneba N’Diaye scored 13 points and Sika Kone had 10 for Mali, which is still looking to win its first World Cup since 2010.
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