March 31, 2023

SYDNEY (AP) – Arela Guirantes’ big effort helped Puerto Rico make history with its first win at the Women’s Basketball World Cup.

Guirantes had 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists to lead Puerto Rico to an 82-58 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina in Thursday’s tournament opener.

“I’m lost for words right now because we’re grinding so much together,” she said. “It’s great to take the win on such a great stage.”

In other games Thursday, the United States beat Belgium 87-72; Canada defeated Serbia 67-60 and Japan 89-56. South Korea faced China and hosts Australia faced France in the next games.

Puerto Rico played in its first World Cup in 2018 and went winless in three matches in that tournament. The country was also winless at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

“This is a great win for us. We didn’t win a game in the last world tournament,” said Puerto Rico coach Jerry Bautista. “We’re very excited and happy about it.”

The win comes at a difficult time for Puerto Rico as the island tries to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona earlier this week.

“I know you are going through a difficult time. … We’ve been through this before, so I know everyone in the community will rely on each other and help each other. Stay safe,” said guard Jennifer O’Neill.

Puerto Rico led 31-16 after the first quarter and never looked back. These 31 points were the most the country scored in a single period in the short history of the World Cup.

In other games on Thursday:

US 87, Belgium 72

Brenna Stewart had 22 points and Alyssa Thomas had 14 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in her USA debut.

Belgium settled within one before the Americans went on a quick 12-0 run. The USA extended the lead again behind Stewart and Lloyd and led 48-39 at the half. The Americans went on a 12-4 run to open the third quarter and put the game away.

Julie Vanlu scored 13 points to lead Belgium.

Canada 67, Serbia 60

Kayla Alexander scored 13 points and Nira Fields added 12 to help Canada beat Serbia in the opener.

Trailing by one in the first quarter, the Canadians outscored Serbia 23-12 in the second quarter and never looked back.

Kia Nurse, who missed the entire WNBA season in October 2021 while recovering from a torn ACL, had nine points in 19 minutes.

Yvonne Anderson scored 18 points to lead Serbia.

Japan 89, Mali 56

Aika Hirashita scored 17 points, hitting five 3-pointers and Stephanie Mauley added 14 to help the Olympic silver medalists win their opener.

Japan only led 21-18 after one quarter before taking control in the second period with a 26-11 advantage. Japan continued to extend its lead in the third quarter and coasted the rest of the way.

Djeneba N’Diaye scored 13 points and Sika Kone added 10 for Mali, which is still looking to win its first World Cup competition since 2010.


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