Ayón, Mexico Stun Dominican To Stay Perfect
Mexico entered the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship as a team not picked to qualify for the FIBA World Cup in Spain next year. At best, most thought Mexico would be the third-best team in their group of five, get to the second round, then quietly bow out.
Apparently no one told Mexico.
Entering Friday’s game against the Dominican Republic as 6.5 point underdogs, Mexico raced to a 14-point halftime lead and kept the pressure on en route to an 85-61 mauling of the Dominican Monday to improve to 3-0 in the tournament. New Atlanta Hawk Gustavo Ayón scored 14 first-half points to lead the charge, then added another bucket in the second half before resting with a big lead. He finished with eight rebounds to go with his 16 points.
Mexico plays Argentina tomorrow with a chance to finish an improbable 4-0 in group play. They’ve already advanced to round two, and a win tomorrow would put them in excellent position to qualify for the world’s most prestigious international tournament.
Ayón said after yesterday’s win that he was excited to see where his country’s team stood after facing the Dominican Republic – their first true test of the tournament. This win should make Mexican fans feel a lot better.
Fellow Hawk Al Horford is in Africa for Basketball Without Borders and therefore couldn’t represent the Dominican over the next two weeks. It may have been a different game with Al on the floor opposing Gustavo. Nevertheless, he tweeted his support for the team today:
Por compromisos con la NBA, no puedo estar ahí, pero desde aquí estoy pendiente de ustedes. Arriba Dominicana!
— Al Horford (@Al_Horford) September 2, 2013
Ayón tweeted yesterday that getting to Spain is the ultimate goal:
Tercera final vamos con todo Mexico quien dice que no se puede. España se sorprrndera.
— Gustavo Ayon (@AyonGustavo) September 2, 2013
Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images