April 2, 2023

SYDNEY (AP) — A massive effort from Arrera Gilantes helped Puerto Rico make history with its first win at the Women’s World Cup.

Gillantes had 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists on Thursday to lead Puerto Rico to an 82-58 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in the game’s opener.

“I’m speechless now because we’ve been dawdling around together,” she said. “It feels great to win on such a great stage.”

In other games on Thursday, the U.S. beat Belgium 87-72; Canada beat Serbia 67-60 and Japan beat Mali 89-56. South Korea faces China and hosts Australia meet France in the ensuing game.

Puerto Rico entered the World Cup for the first time in 2018, failing to win three games in that competition. The country also failed to win at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

“It’s a great win for us. We didn’t win a game at the last World Championship,” Puerto Rico coach Jerry Batista said. “We’re very excited and happy about it.”

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

“I know you’re going through a tough time. … We’ve been through it before, so I know everyone in the community is going to lean on each other and help each other. Stay safe,” linebacker Jennifer O’Neal said.

Puerto Rico went 31-16 after the first quarter and never looked back. The 31 points was the highest for the country in its short World Cup history.

In other games on Thursday:

US 87, Belgium 72

Breanna Stewart had 22 points and Alyssa Thomas had 14 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds in her U.S. debut

The Americans quickly took a 12-0 lead before Belgium settled to cut it to within one point. The U.S. extended the lead again after Stewart and Lloyd and led 48-39 at halftime. The Americans started the third quarter with a 12-4 run and finished the game.

Julie Vanloo led Belgium with 13 points.

Canada 67, Serbia 60

Kayla Alexander had 13 points and Nirra Fields had 12 to help Canada beat Serbia in the opener.

Trailing by a point after the first quarter, the Canadians took the lead in the second quarter with a 23-12 victory over Serbia and didn’t look back.

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

Yvonne Anderson led Serbia with 18 points.

Japan 89, Mali 56

Aika Hirashita had 17 points and hit five 3-pointers and Stephanie Mawuli added 14 to help the Olympic silver medalist win the opener.

The Japanese team only led 21-18 in the last quarter and took control 26-11 in the second quarter. The Japanese team continued to expand their lead in the third quarter and maintained the lead in the next game.

Djeneba N’Diaye had 13 points and Sika Kone added 10 for Mali, who are still hoping to win their first World Cup match since 2010.


More AP Women’s Basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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