TOLUCA, Mexico – The Virgin Islands, the smallest nation in the Centro Basket Tournament, earned a spot in the medal round Friday with an 82-62 victory over Honduras.
The V.I., which finished the preliminary round 2-1, will face either Mexico or Cuba in Saturday night's semifinal. The championship is scheduled for Sunday at the Albarran gym outside of Mexico City.
The Virgin Islands' lone loss was to Puerto Rico, which had the service of NBA 7-footer Daniel Santiago. The V.I. came into Friday's action needing a victory over Honduras and a Puerto Rico win over the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico beat the Dominican Republic, 81-78, on Friday.
The tournament's top four teams – Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Cuba – will also advance to the Tournament of Americas in Argentina.
The Virgin Islands used two big scoring rallies to overcome Honduras. The Virgin Islands, which led 57-39 at intermission, scored the first 10 points of the second half to go ahead 57-39.
"That's what we talked about at halftime," said V.I. head coach Tevester Anderson. "We wanted to come out on a run during the first five minutes of the second half.
"I think this win will give us some momentum going into the medal round."
The other V.I. rally came early in the second quarter. With Honduras leading 27-18, the Virgin Islands went on a 15-0 run, making the score 33-27 midway into the second quarter.
Even though Honduras came into the game 0-2, the team played with exceptional energy. Honduras forward Pedro Salazar scored 19 points and his team grabbed 19 offensive.
"If we had taken this game lightly, we would have lost," Anderson said. "They were tough and physical. They didn't have much outside shooting, but they were tough inside. We had to adjust."
Honduras struggled from the outside, shooting 0 for 7 from the 3-point line.
"We had to work for this one," said captain Calvert White, who was one of four V.I. players in double figures.
Jameel Heywood led the Virgin Islands in scoring for the second straight game. The recent University of Oklahoma graduate had 21 points. White, the reigning slam-dunk champion of Holland, had 12 points, six assists and four steals.
Veteran overseas pro Leon Trimmingham scored 14 points, had five steals and blocked two shots. Cuthbert Victor had 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots.
The Virgin Islands and Barbados are the only English-speaking nations competing in the tournament. The Virgin Islands is grouped with Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Honduras.
Barbados is grouped with Panama, host Mexico and defending champion Cuba.


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