AUCKLAND (FIBA U19 World Championship) - Mike Rosario has made the FIBA U19 World Championship his own with a remarkable 54-point performance to carry Puerto Rico to a 90-89 victory over France in one of the games of the tournament.
Rosario had 13 at quarter time, 28 at half time, 37 at three quarter time and scored 17 final quarter points to carry his team back from the brink, after France had taken an 83-76 lead with 3:20 remaining in the game.
The French got out of the blocks quicker, leading 27-21at quarter time behind an even spread of scorers. But Rosario took over early in the second quarter, and the Puerto Rico defence forced France into 9 turnovers for the quarter, equal to the number of points they scored for the period.
Trailing by 11 at the main break, the French made their move late in the third quarter, finishing the term on a 14-2 run to tie the scores at 63-63.
The last quarter was a classic, with France hitting five three pointers to establish their 7 point lead. But Rosario came back to life to hit three baskets, including a two pointer to tie scores at 89-89 with 40 seconds to play.
Andrew Albicy (28 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steal) was outstanding for France all night, but missed an open three point shot to win the game with three seconds to play. Raymond Cintron grabbed the rebound and rushed down the court, finding Kevin Young under the basket, who was fouled with 0.6 seconds remaining.
Young missed the first but made the second and, fittingly, Rosario stole the inbounds pass to secure an incredible win for his country.
Puerto Rico’s three wins may be enough to qualify them for the quarter finals, but a win in their remaining games against the USA and Egypt will make it a certainty.
With two wins on the board, France must win at least one of their games against Lithuania and Greece to move on to the knockout round.
Mike Rosario said :
"I knew today was do or die for us. That was a team we played in France and they beat us by one at the Douai Tournament, and I just knew that this game meant so much to me, my country and my teammates.
I just told coach that I was going to go out and give it everything I had, and I went out there and I prayed last night, and I prayed before the game and everything went right for me today. I am just so happy."