BASKETBALL: U.S. squashes Panama, 78-48, in men’s World Cup qualifier

The U.S. men’s national team continued its run toward the FIBA men’s World Cup in 2019 by breezing past Panama, 78-48 on Monday (17th), in its second game of the second round.

Jeff Van Gundy’s team took an 18-7 lead in the first quarter and had a 36-23 edge at the half. Panama stayed within striking distance in the third, but the American squad pulled out to a 19-point lead at the end of the quarter. A 21-10 final period made the game a rout.

The U.S. held Panama to only 31.1% shooting, but shot only 42.6% itself and made just eight of 27 three-point shots. Guard Reggie Hearn led the scoring with 12 and forward Dwayne Bacon had 10.

Coupled with its prior win over Uruguay in Las Vegas, the U.S. improved to 7-1 in Group E:

∙ Standings:
United States (7-1), Argentina (7-1), Puerto Rico (5-3), Uruguay (5-3), Panama (3-5), Mexico (3-5).

∙ Scores:
United States 78 at Panama 48
at Uruguay 63, Mexico 60
at Argentina 106, Puerto Rico 84

The U.S. only has to finish in the top three in the group to move on to the World Cup in 2019. The qualifying period is over for now; the next pair of games will take place on 29 November and 2 December.

In Group F, Canada and Venezuela are both 7-1 now, with Brazil at 6-2 and the Dominican Republic at 5-3; and the Virgin Islands is 2-6 and Chile is 1-7.