SA Chihuahua, Mexico, isinalba ni Isaiah Thomas ang US Team sa kamuntik nang upset, nang talunin ang Cuba, 95-90 sa World Cup qualifying opener.
Qualifying event ito para sa 2023 Fiba World Cup.
Umiskor si Thomas ng 21 points, kasama ang pinang-selyong 3-pointer sa huling 13.3 seconds, nang burahin ng Americans ang seven-point deficit sa fourth quarter.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to put USA on your chest,” pahayag ng 32-year-old na si Thomas. “So, anytime USA Basketball comes calling, I’m always going to be for it. We have a great group of guys, a great coaching staff and it was fun to be out there. It was a great game. It was a tough game for us.”
Lamang ng dalawa ang US Team matapos maka-shoot ni Cuban Jasiel Rivero sa huling 34 seconds. Hindi tumawag ng timeout ang US at kinipkip ni Thomas, two-time NBA All-Star, may averaged 29 points sa Boston Celtics sa 2016-17 season, pero nagbakasyon sanhi ng injuries, ang bola hanggang makakuha ng screen, malapit sa ibabaw, bumato at kumonekta tungo sa 93-88 lead.
“We have prepared for those moments,” lahad ni US coach Jim Boylen. “We were organized. And he made a huge play.”
Si Thomas, NBA free agent at umaasang makakabalik sa liga, huling sumalang sa national team noong Pebrero, sa qualifying para sa AmeriCup, kung saan inakay niya ang team sa panalo kontra Bahamas at Mexico.
Noong nakaraang season, saglit siyang lumaro sa New Orleans, nag-average ng 7.7 points sa tatlong laro.
“For me, personally, the ultimate goal is to get back in the NBA,” wika ni Thomas. “But I just love playing the game of basketball. So, obviously, at some point, if the NBA isn’t an option I’ve got to look at options overseas. But I’m in love with the game. No matter where I’m playing, I have no pride whatsoever. I love competing and I love playing against the best players in the world.”
Sina Brian Bowen II at B.J. Johnson, umiskor ng tig-16 sa US Team, habang nagdagdag si Justin Anderson ng 10 points. (VT Romano)