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rida. Boston closes the regula
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The first round is over. The U.S. is halfway to the Basketball World Cup.
The Americans wrapped up the first stage of the new qualifying format Sunday by beating Cuba 93-62 [url=http://www.newyorkjetsteamonline.com/jamal-adams-jersey]Cheap Jamal Adams Jersey[/url] , bouncing back from a loss in Mexico on Thursday to finish alone atop their group at 5-1.
Using G League players instead of the NBA stars they’ve been relying on to dominate for more than a decade, the Americans lost a game at the national team level for the first time since 2006 and were pushed a couple other times in the new qualifying format in which teams play home-and-away games against regional rivals.
They expect things to be just as difficult in the second round, which begins in September.
”We have really good players that are playing right now. We just don’t know who is going to be available,” coach Jeff Van Gundy said. ”But the point is we have to play better because the competition does get better.”
Reggie Hearn and Xavier Munford each scored 16 points for the Americans in their first game in Havana since 1991, when they earned a bronze medal in the Pan Am Games with a team that included Duke stars Christian Laettner and Grant Hill.
NBA players were introduced in the Olympics the next year and the Americans have almost always been able to count on a talent advantage since. But they shuttled in players from the G League for all three windows of games in the first round, and had two tough victories over Puerto Rico before the loss in Mexico City.
”We had lots of different guys participate and so the weakness is that we had a constant turnover of players,” Van Gundy said. ”But our strength is our defense and our 3-point shooting.”
Cuba led 28-24 after the first quarter Sunday before the U.S. quickly seized control with a 19-1 run to start the second.
The Americans plan to continue using G League players in the second round [url=http://www.jaguarscheapstore.com/taven-bryan-jersey-cheap]Taven Bryan Jersey[/url] , when they move into a group that will feature Argentina, Uruguay and Panama, along with Puerto Rico and Mexico. The first-round record carries over, and the Americans will have to finish in the top three of that group or be the best fourth-place finisher from the Americas to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in China.
That tournament will serve as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympics.
The Boston Bruins missed a chance to edge even closer to a division title.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves, Braydon Coburn and Ryan Callahan both had two assists during a three-goal second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat Boston 4-0 Tuesday night to move into a tie for the Atlantic Division lead with the Bruins.
”They hadn’t beaten us this year, and they were determined to do that [url=http://www.sanfrancisco49ersteamonline.com/reuben-foster-jersey]Reuben Foster Jersey[/url] ,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. ”The first period, I thought we were clearly outplayed for the most part. I thought the second period we didn’t give up as many quality chances and three of them went in. That’s the way it goes some times.”
Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, Chris Kunitz and J.T. Miller scored for the Lightning, who had lost four of five.
”We want to finish in first place,” Hedman said. ”The first two periods were some of the best hockey we’ve played all year. I was very happy with the way we played.”
Tampa Bay played without star center Steven Stamkos, who left Sunday’s game against Nashville in the second period with a lower-body injury. It hasn’t been announced if Stamkos will play in either of the Lightning’s final two regular-season games.
Tuukka Rask stopped 32 shots for the Bruins [url=http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/mitchell-trubisky-jersey]Mitchell Trubisky Bears Jersey[/url] , who had gone 5-0-4 over their previous nine games. Boston has three regular-season games left.
”They were definitely the better team,” Rask said.
Vasilevskiy stopped a breakaway shot by David Pastrnak in the second, a period that saw Point, Hedman and Kunitz all have goals as the Lightning took a 3-0 lead. Tampa Bay has outscored its opponents 109-72 during the second this season.
It was Vasilevskiy’s eighth shutout this season and first win (1-4-1) in six games against Boston. The eight shutouts set a franchise record.
”When he’s on his game, he’s really hard to beat,” Point said.
Miller scored during a 2-on-1 break early in the third.
”A complete effort by the whole team,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Boston won three of four in the season series.
NOTES: Bruins D Brandon Carlo [url=http://www.newyorkjetsteamonline.com/sam-darnold-jersey]Sam Darnold Jersey[/url] , hurt in Saturday’s game against Florida, will have surgery this week for a fractured left ankle. Recovery time is three to four months. … Boston D Charlie McAvoy returned after sitting out 15 games because of a strained left knee. … Bruins LW Rick Nash (upper-body injury) skated in Boston. … Boston C Tommy Wingels, slashed on the hand in Sunday’s game at Philadelphia, didn’t play. … Tampa Bay D Anton Stralman played in his 700th NHL game.
Bruins: Complete their road season Thursday night at Florida. Boston closes the regular season at home Sunday with the Panthers.
Lightning: Wrap up the home schedule Friday night against Buffalo.
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