MEXICO CITY – Argentina battled past Mexico 78-74 in an Americas region qualifying game for the 2019 Basketball World Cup in China.
Facundo Campazzo scored 26 points – 11 of them in the fourth quarter – to help the visitors rally from a 61-56 fourth-quarter deficit in that Friday night second-round Group E contest at the Juan de la Barrera Olympic Gymnasium in Mexico City.
Mexico started the game ice-cold and trailed 17-4 with only 1:43 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Argentina still had a 13-point lead in the early part of the second quarter at 28-15, but Mexico proceeded to cut that advantage down to eight by the intermission.
Real Madrid center Gustavo Ayon started poorly but began to come alive for Mexico in the second quarter, when he scored his first four points of the game.
Ayon then scored six more points and reserve Orlando Mendez made three 3-pointers as Mexico evened the score at 54-54 by the end of the third quarter.
The Mexicans appeared to have the all the momentum when they took the lead for the first time on a 3-pointer by Arim Solares and then extended that advantage to 61-55 on a layup by Solares at the 5:49 mark of the fourth quarter.
But Argentina caught fire at just the right time, going on a 10-0 run to make the score 65-61 with four minutes remaining, with Campazzo scoring five of those points.
Mexico kept battling and cut Argentina’s lead to two at 76-74 on an Ayon dunk with seven seconds remaining, but Campazzo sealed the victory with two final free throws.
With one game played in the second round, Argentina is currently in second place in Group E with 13 points, while Mexico is in last place with 10 points.
(Points earned by the teams in the first round were carried over to the second round)
The United States (13 points) leads Group E based on point differential.
The top three teams in Group E and the top three in Group F will secure berths in the Basketball World Cup, which will be held in China from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15, 2019.
The better positioned of the two fourth-place teams also will book a spot in that elite event as the last of seven qualifiers from the Americas region.