(ATR) The men's basketball final at Lima 2019 featured two countries that knew each other well.
Argentina celebrates first Pan Am gold medal in basketball since 1995. (Lima 2019)
Since 2011 Argentina and Puerto Rico had played 10 times, with the Argentines winning nine.
After Sunday night, make that 10 of 11, as Argentina took the gold medal by a final score of 84-66 before a crowd colored in red, blue and white at the Coliseo Eduardo Dibos. The fans added spice to the match with their songs, applause and cheers.
Argentina is back at the top of the podium for the first time since 1995, when the country hosted the Pan American Games in Mar de Plata. They beat the USA 90-86 that year, the only time they had won gold until last night. Argentina lost its two other finals in 1951 and 1955 to the United States.
“It’s an honor to have won the gold medal for my country. 24 years had to pass for us in order to conquer this second gold medal, so it has a really sweet flavor,“ said Luis Scola, who led Argentina to Olympic gold at Athens 2004.
“We are really happy, its something we owed the country and this team. We didn’t play as well as we expected but it was a final and finished on our side,” described Patricio Garino. “This is the boost we needed to face our next commitments.”
Argentina's Facundo Campazzo (right) was named MVP. (Lima 2019)
It was a really intense first half, with Argentina dominating the game while scoring easy points. Puerto Rico struggled with turnovers and as a result Argentina led 40-30 at halftime.
It was a high speed start to the second half, motivated by music from MGMT. Argentina took control and set the rhythm for the next 20 minutes of the game. Facundo Campazzo pulled the strings for his team, guiding and assisting his teammates.
“Thank God I have the pleasure to play with great teams and I enjoy playing with them. I had fun at this final, I always try to enjoy each game, and when it happens my best version comes out,” said Campazzo, who was named Most Valuable Player after dishing out 12 of the team's 16 assists on the night.
The 39-year-old Scola scored a game-high 28 points for Argentina. Devon Collier led Puerto Rico with 19 points.
For Puerto Rico, champions at Guadalajara 2011 and Havana 1991, this is their fourth Pan Am silver medal to go with four bronze. Argentina has now won 12 medals in men's basketball at the Pan Ams.
Argentina has 43 medals at Lima 2019, 13 of them gold. Puerto Rico's silver medal gives them two of that color in Lima as part of a total of nine medals.
Earlier on Sunday evening, the United States defeated the Dominican Republic 92-83 to take home a third straight bronze medal in the competition. The USA has not won the basketball gold at the Pan Ams since 1983.
Written and reported by Olivia Diaz Ugalde in Lima.
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