USVI Men’s Basketball Gains Fans in Peru After Loss to Puerto Rico

The U.S. Virgin Islands (ISV) lost to Puerto Rico, 101-89, in their second game for the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, but won the hearts of fans attending the event Wednesday morning.

Team ISV finished the first half 32 points behind (59-27) but dominated the second half and outscored Puerto Rico in both the third and fourth quarters, closing the gap to just 12 points.

Top scorers for the USVI were team captain and point guard Walter Hodge with 27 points; Georgio Milligan, who plays point and shooting guard, ended with 17 points; and Ivan Aska, who plays small and power forward put up 16 points. Aska also led in rebounds with nine.

The sound of thunderous applause filled the arena as fans cheered on their favorite teams for most of the second half as team ISV cut down Puerto Rico’s lead. Head coach Wilo Colon said it’s the heart of the players that made the difference.

“They put a lot of heart [in it]. When you touch the heart, it made them think they were representing the Virgin Islands and they want to play for them and that’s when their whole attitude changed,” Colon said.

Point Guard Devon Peltier, who hails from the island of St. Thomas, said the team started off flat with little momentum in the first quarter. However, after a quick pep talk in the locker room at the half, they came back with more intensity and a renewed focus on defense which was key to slowing Puerto Rico’s shooters.

“They punched first, and they punched us hard,” Peltier said. “For half time when we went in the locker, we had a little bit of back and forth. But we’re fighting for something more than ourselves. We’re fighting for our place, our community, our country, our flag—the Virgin Islands. And we came out with a vengeance in the second half.”

Peltier said hearing the support from the fans gave them the fuel to keep pushing.

“For us to fight back it shows we had determination, and we had the will to keep pushing forward no matter the circumstances in the game,” Peltier said. “The fans saw that. They saw our fight. They saw our will, and we came forth and the support and the cheering just helped to give us momentum to take the game within single digits points to come back and actually give us a fighting chance to win. We felt like we [weren’t] there alone.”

USVI Loses First Game Against USA in 2019 Pan Am Games Debut

The U.S. Virgin Islands (ISV) men’s basketball team took a loss to the United States (USA) in their first game for the 2019 Pan American Games on Wednesday with a score of 119- 84.

The highlight for team ISV was in the second quarter when they bested the USA 20-17 even though they trailed for the entire game which took place at the Eduardo Dibós Colisuem in Lima, Peru.
Walter Hodge, ISV’s team captain and point guard took a lot of positives from the game as they look forward to playing Puerto Rico on Thursday.

“I think we did a good job moving the ball in the first half. The first quarter was okay, the second quarter was perfect for us. We moved the ball. We [were] not trying to hold the ball too much,” Hodge said.

One of team ISV’s coaches Donald Bough, agreed saying that there were many takeaways that they can apply in the upcoming days.

“We didn’t shoot too bad when we had the opportunity. So, our shooting and our offense ain’t too bad,” Bough said. “Defensively now we have a little bit of stuff to work on, because we gave up too [many] easy buckets. So, in terms of the offense, we know who the shooters are so we can penetrate.”

Devon Peltier, Ivan Aska, and Hodge were the top scoring players for team ISV. Peltier and Aska both had 16 points, and Hodge ended with 18. Aska also led the team in rebounds with eight—seven of which were on the defensive end.

Though Team ISV ended the game making 40 percent of their three-pointers, Team USA dominated with a fairly higher percentage—50 percent—something Bough says was expected but won’t deter them from re-focusing and keeping their head in the game moving forward.

“Ain’t nobody going to shoot a better three-point percentage than this team. They shot the volume of threes and the percentage of threes,” Bough said. “Even though it might look a little dismal because of the margin of loss—that’s one game like how they say, and the next game will be something hopefully a lot more positive to us.”

Team captain Hodge said that defense will need to be improved for tomorrow against Puerto Rico, who also has high percentage shooters.

“I think this is a different team. I think this is the B or C team from Puerto Rico, but at the end of the day they are great players and they play hard,” Hodge said. “They got a bunch of shooters too, so if today was hard for us to guard the three-point line tomorrow will be the same, so we have to do a better job.”