Sports August 29, 2023 | 11:45 am

Dominican Republic advances to the next round as leader of Group A of the Basketball World Cup

A triumphant performance leading to an accomplishment: The Dominican Republic secures a 75-67 victory over Angola (11-20-17-21/12-18/26-17), sealing their undefeated status (3-0) as Group A leaders in the 2023 Basketball World Cup and advancing to the next round of the top 16.

For the Dominican fans who rose early on this Tuesday, the victory brought a satisfying taste as they witnessed the impressive display by the team of 12 players and their coaching staff. The game, held at the Araneta Coliseum in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, proved to be a closely contested encounter. Nevertheless, the win was significant as it marked the first time, in their fourth appearance in a world championship, that the Dominican team progressed to the next round as a group leader in such a high-stakes phase.

The upcoming stage, the second round, is set to begin on August 31, with the Dominican Republic scheduled to play their first match on September 1. The victory against Angola was hard-fought, considering the resilient nature of the African team, which demonstrated unwavering determination, particularly on the defensive front. This presented challenges to the Dominican team, who ultimately triumphed in a critical final quarter, securing it with a score of 26-17.

Now, the Dominican team becomes a part of Group I, alongside the two qualifiers from Group B, which features Serbia, Puerto Rico, South Sudan, and China. The frontrunners to progress from Group B are expected to be determined soon.

The match exhibited fluctuating momentum, with both teams frequently exchanging leadership positions. The Dominican squad had to navigate through personal foul troubles for players like Karl-Anthony Towns, which impacted their offensive capabilities. Additionally, Eloy Vargas’ early benching due to fouls posed an early challenge for the team’s rotation.

In the absence of their primary offensive figure, Andrés Féliz took on a leadership role in the offense, playing skillfully without the ball. Féliz ended the game with 17 points, Víctor Liz contributed 13 points, and Ángel Delgado and Towns each scored eight points.

Angola’s offensive efforts were led by Silvio de Sousa with 19 points, Bruno Fernando with 13 points (departing the game with five fouls), Gerson Domingos with 12 points, and Jilson Bango with 11 points. Angola showcased dominance in the paint, amassing 42 rebounds, of which 21 were offensive. In contrast, the Dominican team secured 40 rebounds, with only 10 being offensive.

Fortuitously, the Dominican reserves stepped up to maintain their competitive edge. Their efforts enabled the team to gain a 13-point advantage by the end of the second quarter, resulting in a halftime score of 37-32 in favor of the Dominicans.

During the third quarter, with 8 minutes and 45 seconds left on the clock, Karl-Anthony Towns accumulated his fourth foul, an offensive one, shortly after making a three-pointer. Consequently, he sat out for a significant portion of that quarter.

With 2 minutes and 13 seconds remaining in the final quarter, Víctor Liz scored a crucial double, assisted by Jean Montero, narrowing the score to 67-65. In the ensuing moments, the Dominican team solidified their grip on the game and secured the victory.

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