Panama’s major basketball team is playing live this Monday against the United States in the continuation of the first window of the second round of the qualifier towards the FIBA World Cup of Chinese Basketball 2019.
The Panamanians will receive a US team on their home soil in an official match for the first time and with one foot almost out of the World Cup qualification, due to the loss against Puerto Rico, last Friday, by a score of 82 to 73.
In the match against Puerto Rico, the Panamanians only achieved a 37 percent field goal percentage, with Daniel Girón (Ostioneros de Guaymas de México) as the best scorer with 17 points.
With these defeats the Panamanians are left with a negative record of 3 wins and 4 losses.
For this game, Hussein must mentally and physically recover the team and its important figures such as: Trevor Gaskins of Maccabi Haifa B.C. of Israel, Tony Bishop of the Bakken Bears of Denmark, Javier Carter of the Hispano Americano of Río Gallegos in Argentina and Ernesto Oglivie of Capitanes CDMX in the Mexican league.
The visitors come from overwhelming Uruguay 114 by 57, to prove their place in the basketball world championship, with a record of six wins against one defeat.
The Americans in this match hit 60.8 percent of their shots, including 16 of 19 three-pointers, with Frank Mason III as their top scorer with 16 points.
The coach of the Panamanian team, the Spaniard Manuel Hussein, assured that in this start of the second round of the qualifiers he played two difficult games and that there were no rivals of low or medium quality, but that he would try to "compete as best we can".
"What does compete as best we can mean, well, to fight for victory against Puerto Rico and the United States, is how I see it," Hussein said at the time.
We could not beat the Puerto Ricans and the team showed their lack of pace and hoop accuracy, now the only thing left is to surprise the United States, tomorrow Monday.
Statistically the Panamanian team, in seven games that this playoff round takes, has an average of 72.7 points per game, to be number eleven in the ranking. His opponent tomorrow is second in points per games with 88.6, just below the Canadian team.
Jeff Van Gundy, former coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets of the NBA and American helmsman, said before the start of the window: "the games of the second round mark the beginning of the most critical part of the World Cup Qualifiers".
He added that "all our matches in the second round are going to be very, very difficult and competitive battles: Uruguay, Panama, Argentina are all very good and have good leadership."
United States arrives in Panama with 10 of 14 players who have had a ticket to NBA basketball teams.
Among those: Frank Mason III who played in Sacramento Kings, Ben Moore in Indiana Pacers, Jameel Warney (Dallas Mavericks), Derrick White in San Antonio Spurs, Dwayne Bacon in Charlotte Hornets, Jordan Crawford in New Orleans Pelicans, Henry Ellenson and Reggie Hearn in Detroit Pistons, Isaiah Hicks (New York Knicks) and Dakari Johnson (Oklahoma City Thunder).
The match will be played tomorrow at 20:00 local time (01:00 GMT on Tuesday) at the Roberto Durán Arena, in the east of Panama City, with a capacity of about 8,000 spectators.