GREENSBORO, N.C. — Once the United States got rolling, a close game was close no more.
Cameron Reynolds scored 26 points and the U.S. rolled in the second half to beat Panama 111-80 in a qualifying game for the FIBA World Cup on Friday night. The Americans finished the game on a 63-34 run over the final 21 minutes, including a 13-0 spurt to end the game.
“Second half, we kind of turned it up a little bit,” Reynolds said.
Travis Trice scored 14 points and added 10 assists for the Americans, who improved to 9-2 in qualifying. The U.S. has already clinched a spot in the World Cup in China that starts Aug. 31, and will send a team of NBA stars as it aims for a third consecutive gold medal in that event. The Americans have used primarily G League players in the qualifying matchups.
Michael Frazier scored 11 and Chinanu Onuaku added 10 for the U.S., which made 18 3-pointers and outrebounded Panama 46-27.
“I thought Panama played outstanding in the first half,” U.S. coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “Really shot it well. Our defence might have been a little sub-par. Our depth, I thought, really showed through in the second half.”
Javier Carter scored 18 points for Panama (4-7), which was previously eliminated from contention for the 32-team World Cup. Eugenio Luzcando had 11 for Panama on 4 for 5 shooting.
Panama was within two late in the first half, but the Americans scored the next 10 points and pushed the lead out to 20 for the first time early in the fourth quarter. They were never in trouble again.
Reynolds was 6 for 11 from 3-point range for the U.S., and the Americans combined to shoot 18 for 48 from beyond the arc. Frazier and Onuaku each had eight rebounds for the U.S.
Panama: Jamaal Levy was a three-year starter at Wake Forest, not far from Greensboro. … Panama fell to 1-22 against USA Basketball in international play, the lone loss for the Americans coming in the 2007 Pan America Games. … Panama was 0-2 against the U.S. in these qualifiers, also losing at home 78-48 in mid-September.
USA: Chris Chiozza was one of the 12 players selected to play this weekend, but left the team Thursday after agreeing to sign a 10-day contract with the Houston Rockets. All 11 other players on the U.S. roster played Friday. … Onuaku was playing on his current home floor — the U.S. is playing these last two qualifying teams at the home of the G League’s Greensboro Swarm.
PERFECT AT HOME
The U.S. improved to 5-0 in “home” games during qualifying for this World Cup, and 6-0 on U.S. soil overall. A game that was scheduled to be played in Puerto Rico last year was played in Orlando, Florida instead because of the island’s massive struggles with hurricanes that caused widespread damage. It technically was still a home game for Puerto Rico.
Panama: Visits Mexico on Monday in the qualifying finale for both teams. Neither will be playing in China this summer.
USA: Hosts Argentina in Greensboro on Monday to end qualifying. Argentina has already clinched a World Cup berth as well.