Indianapolis, USA, September 2 (fiba.com) - Puerto Rico continued its surprising performance in the World
Basketball Championship with an 85-83 victory over powerful Yugoslavia in a
second-round game on Monday night at Conseco Fieldhouse.
With the score tied 83-83, Puerto Rico's Jose Ortiz - fouled by Peja Stojakovic
battling for a rebound - made one of two free throws, then rebounded his miss and
was fouled again, making the first to set off a raucous celebration among the Puerto
Rican players and fans.
He made the first shot and missed the second. The live ball ran out the clock.
Ortiz's heroics culminated a comeback from an 11-point deficit in the final 7 minutes.
With 6:59 left in the game, Puerto Rico trailed 73-62 but fought back to take an
80-78 lead on Carlos Arroyo's 3-pointer with 2:10 left.
"That was a big comeback," Ayuso said. "In Puerto Rico, we believe that as long as
you play with heart and play hard, good things will happen. It was a big collective
effort by everybody."
Daniel Santiago dunks as Drobnjak
and Tomasevic look on
Yugoslavia forced Puerto Rico to rely on others besides guard Elias Ayuso, who
came into the game with the tournament's highest scoring average (30.0 ppg).
With Stojakovic and Milan Gurovic defending him tightly, Ayuso earned just 11
His supporting cast stepped up - most notably center Daniel Santiago, who scored a
game-high 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
"It was a battle down there," Santiago said. "I had some good looks and my
teammates got it to me where I needed it - high."
Ortiz had 15 points and eight rebounds, Arroyo 10 points and nine assists, and
Rolando Hourruitiner 10 points and seven rebounds for Puerto Rico.
"Every time I came off picks, they double-teamed me," Ayuso said. "That just
opened the game up on the inside."
Stojakovic led Yugoslavia with 26 points. Marko Jaric scored 16 and Vlade Divac 14.
Yugoslavian coach Svetislav Pesic said Puerto Rico won because of its confidence.
``Puerto Rico had an excellent game today," he said. "They came better prepared
and played a superior game. Yugoslavia didn't take advantage of the fact it was
winning the game."
Puerto Rico (3-1) faces Spain at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the RCA Dome. Yugoslavia
(2-2) meets Brazil at 1:30 p.m. in the RCA Dome.