PHOENIX SUNS

Deandre Ayton, Eric Gordon lead Bahamas to 1st win in Olympic Pre-Qualifying tournament

Aug 14, 2023, 8:56 PM | Updated: Aug 15, 2023, 8:35 am

Deandre Ayton and Eric Gordon of the Phoenix Suns lead the Bahamas to a 109-68 victory over Cuba in their first game of the 2023 FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournaments Americas in Santiago del Estero, Argentina.

Ayton finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds on 10-for-14 shooting, nearly completing a double-double in the first half with 14 points and eight boards. He was a +37 in 25 minutes. Gordon dropped 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting with four 3-pointers and four assists.

Phoenix’s big man put the ball on the floor with a pair of thunderous driving dunks and a turnaround jumper. He also hit a pull-up jump shot at the free-throw line after dribbling between his legs.

Gordon hit Ayton on a drive for a flush as they build some rapport after Gordon signed with Phoenix as a free agent this summer. The veteran guard hit multiple deep 3s and attacked the basket.

Gordon and Ayton respectively scored the first two buckets of the game for the Bahamas.

Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield led the squad with 24 points on 20 shots.

Eight teams make up the bracket, all of which did not advance in the FIBA World Cup Americas Qualifiers. The Bahamas is in Group A with Cuba, Argentina and Panama.

The Bahamas faces Argentina on Wednesday and Panama on Friday.

The winner of the Americas section of the pre-qualifying tournament will compete for a spot in the 2024 Olympic Games next summer.

Ayton was born in Nassau and last competed for the national team in 2016. Gordon’s mother is from the Bahamas.

Chimezie Metu’s double-double

Suns big man Chimezie Metu is competing in Africa’s FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament for Nigeria after representing the country at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Nigeria fell to Senegal 93-87 on Monday in a back-and-forth game in which Metu dropped 22 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes starting at the 4.

Metu went 7-for-14 from the field with a trio of 3-pointers on six attempts. The 26-year-old was a +3 on the court and recorded an assist in which he put the ball on the floor with his right hand and kicked out to an open shooter.

He also nailed a pull-up 3-pointer off a ball screen going to his left.

Nigeria faces Mali on Tuesday.

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Deandre Ayton, Eric Gordon lead Bahamas to 1st win in Olympic Pre-Qualifying tournament