MANILA, Philippines — Puerto Rico and South Sudan went to war on Saturday in Group B of the 2023 Fiba World Cup, with two warriors from both sides standing tall.
Puerto Rican Ismael Romero battled his way to a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double while playing an instrumental role in the team’s comeback effort in settling their 101-96 victory.
“I’m so happy. I’ve worked so hard to be here in this situation. I’m doing my best for my team, whether it’s getting rebounds, screens, floor diving, whatever it takes” , he said after a grueling extra time against South Sudan.
Romero missed potentially game-winning free throws with 0.3 ticks left in the fourth quarter, but Puerto Rico wouldn’t be able to close a 72-65 deficit without his choppy plays and crucial baskets in the clutch.
However, he wasn’t the only star to shine in this neck and neck confrontation.
South Sudan’s Carlik Jones delivered a gargantuan effort with a double-double himself to the tune of 35 scorers and 11 assists, but that wasn’t enough to pull the Sudanese out of trouble.
His tremendous performance, however, caught Romero’s attention when the horn signaled the end of the match.
“He’s an incredible player, he gives everything for the country too, so a lot of respect for him,” said the murderer. “A player like that? You must respect it.
Jones admitted, however, that he was unhappy with his outing, despite being the game’s top scorer.
“I’m used to it (to score). My biggest thing is winning. Points, rebounds, it all doesn’t matter if you don’t get the win,” the snarky guard said.
“My main goal is to win, so as a leader I have to be more focused on those guys. I also participate in losses because I feel that I have to be a better leader.
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