Mexico finally got on the board at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, defeating New Zealand 108-100 less than 24 hours after the Tall Blacks were handed a knock-out blow by Greece in the First Round.
This was Mexico’s third 100+ point game in FIBA Basketball World Cup history. The first two came in 1974, scoring 106 against the Central African Republic and 101 against the Philippines.
Both teams are now 1-3 in the Classification Games 17-32 Group N.
Turning point: Mexico stormed to a double-digit lead early on, but Finn Delany and Shea Ili fueled a comeback that brought them back to -6 with five minutes to play.
Paul Stoll knocked down a big three-pointer to stop that run, make it a +9 lead, and secure a less dramatic finish for coach Omar Quintero and his squad.
TCL Player of the Game: Pako Cruz has had a rock-solid tournament, it just flew under the radar because Mexico was losing. He had 27 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals to lead Mexico to their first win in Manila.
Honorable mention goes to Fabian Jaimes, 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists on the day for the power forward.
The stats don’t lie: Mexico finally had a good shooting day, knocking down 14-of-25 from beyond the arc.
Bottom line: Both teams remain in the hunt for a place among the teams to reach one of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments next summer. Mexico will try to get to 2-3 with a game against Jordan on Saturday.
New Zealand did not have any luck, but their guards were impressive once again. Shea Ili had an 18-point, 10-assist double-double, and Reuben Te Rangi finished with 32 points after knocking down three crazy three-pointers in the final 90 seconds of the game. They play Egypt next, after getting a day off on Friday.