Guangzhou, Sep 4 : Puerto Rico overcame an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Tunisia 67-64 with the last shot of the game at the FIBA World Cup here on Wednesday, advancing from Group C into the competition's round of 16.
"It was a great game. These guys competed everything they got. They are warriors," Puerto Rico coach Eddie Casiano said after the game.
"Nobody thought we could qualify, even win a game before this tournament. We feel like family together. This group is incredible," he added.
With 44 seconds to go, the scores were tied at 64-64 and the ball was in Tunisia's hands. Mourad Mabrouk missed a jump shot but Makram Ben Romdhane slammed home the rebound, before Salah Mejri missed a three-pointer.
Gian Clavell got to the rebound and passed to Gary Browne, who dribbled behind the arc, fainted and pulled himself up to shoot, successfully landing a three-pointer with only five seconds left on the clock.
Tunisia had a chance to tie the game, but Ben Romdhane missed another three pointer to send Puerto Rico into the second round.
"In the last three minutes, we had a lot of opportunities, but we made mistakes. I am completely responsible for the defeat," Tunisia coach Mario Palma said.
With both sides having won only one of their last two games, a win in Wednesday's game was the only hope either side had of progressing further in the tournament.
The game started with both sides attacking and defending cautiously and delivering good shooting percentages. Bryan Diaz scored seven points to lift Puerto Rico into a narrow 19-18 lead at the close of the first quarter.
Tunisia railed to a 6-0 run to start the second quarter and took a 24-19 lead. Gian Clavell stood out to hit a three-pointer and inspired Puerto Rico to a 9-0 run to regain the advantage, giving them a 38-32 half-time lead.
Tunisia came out swinging at the beginning of the third quarter, regaining the lead with an 11-4 spurt, and ultimately leading 55-52 as the game headed into the final quarter.
Mejri and Michael Roll combined to help Tunisia increase their advantage and lead 60-52 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
There would have been no last shot chance for Puerto Rico without David Huertas, who had scored 34 points as Puerto Rico eased to victory over Iran. After scoring only four points in the first three quarters against Tunisia, the 32-year-old suddenly woke up, hitting two three-pointers to tie the scores at 64-64, setting up the dramatic final act. (UNI-XINHUA)