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Ayuso, Puerto Rico rout Venezuela

Aug 30, 2007 - 12:57 AM LAS VEGAS (Ticker) -- Elias Ayuso was lethal from the outside as Puerto Rico kept its slim hopes of advancing to the semifinals at the FIBA Americas Championship alive with a 92-63 victory over Venezuela at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday.

Ayuso scored 25 points, including six 3-pointers, for Puerto Rico (2-4), which now is in sole possession of sixth place in the tournament with a chance of reaching next year's Olympic qualifier and a remote chance of reaching Saturday's semifinals.

The top two finishers here, which emerge from the semifinals, will qualify for next summer's Olympics in Beijing. The third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers will have automatic tickets to next July's pre-Olympic qualifying event.

"We realized the importance of the second round and the second chance that we have been given," Ayuso said. "In the league, we play in in Puerto Rico, there are a lot of back-to-back games. That is why we are relatively fresh. Our bench is giving us a rest.

"When we rebound and play good defense, the offense flows. Rebounding gets our fast break going."

Carlos Arroyo had 13 points and seven assists and Angelo Reyes had nine and 13 rebounds for the Puerto Ricans.

"Our team is running on all cylinders right now," Puerto Rico coach Manuel Cintron said. "Even though we haven't trained together for a long time, we have 12 people here from professional leagues where they are the main players of their teams."

The win also enabled Puerto Rico to bounce back from a loss to Team USA on Tuesday. The Puerto Ricans finish the second round with a contest against Canada on Thursday.

Puerto Rico led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter and 31 in the fourth.

Hector Romero collected 11 points and 10 rebounds and Greivis Vasquez scored 10 points for Venezuela (1-5), which moved into a seventh-place tie with Mexico (1-5). The two teams meet for the first time in the tournament on Thursday.

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