US tops Puerto Rico in opening AmeriCup qualifier, 83-70

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Jalen Jones had 16 points and 11 rebounds, helping the U.S. beat Puerto Rico 83-70 on Thursday in the opening game of qualifying for the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup.

James Webb scored 13 points, Justin Anderson added 11 and Jaylen Adams made all four of his shots on the way to a 10-point effort for the Americans.

All the U.S. has to do in qualifying is finish third or better in a four-team division — Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Bahamas are the other teams in that division — in order to get a spot in the AmeriCup, scheduled to be played in August 2021.

The U.S. never trailed, used an early 11-0 run to take a 19-6 lead and eventually went up by as many as 29 early in the third quarter. Puerto Rico cut the deficit to 10 on two occasions in the fourth quarter but got no closer.

Gian Clavell scored 24 points for Puerto Rico, which got 15 from Isaiah Pineiro and 10 from Renaldo Balkman.

The teams will play again Sunday in Washington. After that, the U.S. qualifying team — composed mostly of G League players and coached by Mike Fratello — won’t resume play until returning to Washington on Nov. 27 for a game against the Bahamas and Nov. 30 for a game against Mexico.