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Puerto Rico upsets Brazil at FIBA Americas

Aug 28, 2007 - 4:05 AM LAS VEGAS (Ticker) -- Puerto Rico knew it was better than its first-round performance at the FIBA Americas Championship. It showed it on Monday night.

After finishing pool play with one win in four games, the Puerto Ricans looked like a different team in a thorough 97-75 victory over Brazil in the first second-round contest for both clubs.

Elias Ayuso scored 24 points, shooting 5-of-8 on 3-pointers, and John Ramos added 14 and six rebounds for Puerto Rico, which opened the game on a 14-4 run and never trailed.

"We understand that we have a second chance and we have to take advantage of it," Puerto Rico guard Carlos Arroyo said.

Puerto Rico took advantage of a day off on Sunday to regroup. In addition to the extra preparation, it also had a chance to reflect.

If it were not for Argentina rallying from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit against Panama on Sunday, Puerto Rico would have been eliminated. Instead, it is one step closer to the semifinals in this Olympic qualifier.

The top two finishers advance to 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"We believe we have a fresh start," Puerto Rico coach Manuel Cintron said. "All I can say is thank God and thank Argentina. Our team has a history of bouncing back after disappointments."

Filberto Rivera scored 14 points and Arroyo added 11 for the Puerto Ricans, which will take on the high-powered United States on Tuesday - a team it upset at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

"You have to play almost perfect ball to stay with (the United States), Arroyo said. "You can't go in there thinking you are going to lose by 20 or 30 points."

Brazil, which was blown out by the Americans on Sunday, missed 16 of its first 19 shots and could never recover. It struggled from the arc all night, making just 4-of-16 shots from 3-point range.

"Obviously a loss like this put our team in an emotional situation," Brazil coach Aluisio Ferreira said. "Everything went wrong, not just one factor going bad. Puerto Rico took over the emotional side of the game and the momentum factor."

Leandro Barbosa scored 34 points and Tiago Splitter added 15 for the Brazilians.

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