Tagged in: holiday

United States men’s basketball downs Cuba in World Cup qualifier

There were some cheers for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before USA Basketball’s match in Cuba on Independence Day.

And then the Americans celebrated the holiday with a big victory.

Xavier Munford scored 24 points and the U.S. defeated Cuba 87-64 on Monday night to close the first round of qualifying for next year’s Basketball World Cup — improving to 31-1 all time versus the island nation.

“It’s emotional to play on the Fourth of July,” said Jim Boylen, who coached the U.S. in all three of the two-game windows in the opening qualifying round. “It’s emotional to be here with this group of guys, with USA across our chests. It’s a big day. Our country is 246 years old today and we’re just thankful for this moment together.”

Munford was 10 for 12 from the floor for the Americans, who got 13 points from Justin Jackson, 12 from John Jenkins — all from 3-point range — and 10 apiece from Will Davis and Langston Galloway.

“It’s July 4th. No better feeling than to get a win tonight,” Munford said.

Jordan Bell concluded with eight rebounds and six assists for the Americans, whose spot in the second round of qualifying was previously secured. They’ll take a 5-1 record into the second round, well on their way to clinching a spot in the World Cup and moving a big step closer toward getting USA Basketball qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

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Yoel Cubilla led Cuba (0-6) with 15 points.

The Americans will start the second round of World Cup qualifying on Aug. 25, with the expectation that the first matchup will be versus Uruguay in Las Vegas.

The U.S. will also play Aug. 29, probably on the road and likely against Colombia, though FIBA has yet to confirm that as the matchup.

The two road wins on this trip — the Americans beat Puerto Rico on Friday — puts the U.S. in a prime position to qualify for the World Cup. The roster was primarily composed of G League players, as is always the case for the Americans in World Cup qualifying, and Boylen said this group came together quickly.

“We came together 11 days ago and our team was focused, our guys were great, we worked on the basics, we got better every day and I thought we played the right way,” he said. “The ball moved, we grew together, and we cared for each other.”

The U.S. will be grouped with Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Colombia in the second round. Also grouped from the Americas region will be Venezuela, Argentina, Panama, Canada, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.

Both of those groups will send three teams to the World Cup; the best fourth-place team from either of those groups will also go, with the Americas region sending seven teams to the tournament that will be played in the summer of 2023 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.

Cuba led 16-14 after the first quarter Monday night. But the Americans scored 14 points in the first 2:19 of the second quarter to take command.

“We lost the first quarter, but I thought the second quarter, we responded,” Boylen said.

A 3-pointer by Jackson opened the second quarter and put the U.S. ahead for good. The lead was 49-32 early in the third — ending what was a 35-16 run by the U.S. — and the Americans remained ahead the rest of the way. “The Cuba team was great,” Munford said.

“They came out with a great effort. They made us work for it. They had strong guys. We played well tonight. We executed, took care of the ball, ran our offense and played USA style of basketball.”

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San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo has torn UCL, fracture in right thumb

The San Francisco 49ers resumed practice Monday after a long holiday weekend without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

That’s because Garoppolo suffered what a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter was a torn ulnar collateral ligament of the right thumb, as well as a fracture in the same thumb, early in Thursday’s 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans. His status for Sunday’s match versus the Houston Texans remains unclear.

Garoppolo did not participate in the Niners’ Monday “bonus” practice, which came after the team went its separate ways for the three days following the loss in Nashville.

Rookie quarterback Trey Lance took all of the work with the starters in Monday’s session, which coach Kyle Shanahan described as a walk-through. According to Shanahan, Garoppolo suffered the injury when Titans defensive tackle Denico Autry sacked him for a 7-yard loss with 3:56 left in the second quarter.

Garoppolo finished the game but struggled with a pair of costly interceptions and missed a would-be touchdown throw to open fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the first half.

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Shanahan indicated that Garoppolo was hampered by the thumb on the Niners’ first offensive play of the third quarter, a pass intended for receiver Deebo Samuel that sailed into the waiting arms of Titans safety Amani Hooker for an interception that Tennessee turned into the game-tying touchdown.

Garoppolo concluded 26-of-35 for 322 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for a 44.4 QBR.

“We knew his thumb was hurting him,” Shanahan said. “We thought he jammed it sometime in the game, so he tells us right when he comes to the bench.”

With Garoppolo considered day-to-day, Lance could be in line for his first extended work with the starters since before a Week 5 loss to Arizona. And if Garoppolo is unable to heal well enough to play Sunday, Lance would make his second career start versus Houston.

Shanahan indicated the decision will come down to not only how Garoppolo feels but also how he looks throwing the ball if he progresses to that stage. As for Lance, Shanahan stated the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft has made good progress while running the scout team The coach pointed to improved decision-making and accuracy, among other things.

“This last month of Trey has been his best consecutive four weeks at practice since we’ve had him,” Shanahan said.

“He’s had a number of good days and he’s had some bad days like most guys do, but as far as his consistency and stuff, I feel this last month has been his best.”

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