Puerto Rico are headed to the quarter-finals of the Fiba Women’s World Cup for the first time.
Mya Hollingshed scored 29 points and Arella Guirantes added 18 to lead Puerto Rico to the 92-73 win over South Korea on Tuesday on the final day of pool play.
Puerto Rico (2-3) scored the game’s first 18 points, including 10 by Hollingshed, and never looked back, securing the final spot in the quarter-finals that begin on Thursday.
“My shot was falling,” Hollingshed said. “I looked up and they hadn’t scored yet.”
After the final buzzer sounded, the Puerto Ricans danced as they celebrated their accomplishment.
Just as winning for the first time in their history earlier in the tournament did, the Puerto Rican players and coaches hope that advancing to the quarters will provide some joy to the island that’s been ravaged by Hurricane Fiona.
“Making history now for us, with what our country is going through right now with Hurricane Fiona. It’s monumental and I hope that it brings some joy to the country and that’s all we want to do, through basketball bring some joy,” said Tayra Melendez.
The team were winless in their three games at the 2018 World Cup, losing by an average of nearly 28 points. The team weren’t even supposed to be in the tournament, but were given a spot when Russia weren’t allowed to compete following the invasion of Ukraine.
“It means a lot with everything going on on the island,” Hollingshed said. “With everything they are dealing with we’re playing for more than ourselves. I know everyone’s excited and encouraging us.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday, the United States routed Bosnia and Herzegovina to break the team record for consecutive wins at the World Cup. The victory was the 27th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semi-finals against Russia.