Puerto Rico (4-0) started very loose and well prepared defensively. Puerto Rico used good ball movement and a free flowing offense to jump out to an early 12-0 lead. After Jamaica got on the board with 5:25 left, J.J Barea and Ricky Sanchez each knocked down a three-pointer to put Puerto Rico up 18-2. Jamaica then went on a run themselves to get within 22-13. But, Barrea nailed a triple as the first quarter horn sounded.
Puerto Rico pushed their lead to 32-15 on the strength of Larry Ayuso’s perimeter shooting and a couple of buckets by John Holland. Jamaica, using a full-court press, managed to slow down Puerto Rico offensively and cut the deficit to 37-27 with 4:20 remaining in the half. But once again Puerto Rico closed the period strong and led 48-33 at the half.
The third quarter started like the other two for Puerto Rico as they stretched their lead to 19 (52-33) after baskets by Barrea and Balkman. From that point, Jamaica played with renewed vigor specifically on the defensive end.
Former NBA players Samrdo Samuels (six points) and Jerome James (four points) controlled the paint and Weyinmi Rose (nine points) knocked down perimeter shots as Jamaica closed the gap to 61-57. And then as the quarter was coming to a conclusion, Garfield Blair knocked down a triple and Akeem Scott got a break away bucket to bring Jamaica within 63-62. Jamaica won the quarter, 29-11.
Samuels’ bucket 19 seconds into the final stanza gave Jamaica their first lead of the contest (64-63). The teams traded baskets in the following minutes. With the score knotted at 70, Jamaica went on a 7-2 run to go up 77-72 . But Puerto Rico stormed back with buckets from Ayuso, Balkman and Carlos Arroyo to take a 81-80 lead.
Barea led Puerto Rico with 24 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Balkman finished with 20 points and nine rebounds while Ayuso had 17 points.
Samardo led Jamaica with 24 points and six rebounds.
Jamaica (0-3) will face Brazil (0-3) on Sept. 3, with the winner advancing to the second round.