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MANILA, Philippines – Wherever Karl-Anthony Towns’ mother may be, she must be smiling.
Towns guided Dominican Republic to a surprise sweep in Group A as it secured its place in the second round of the FIBA World Cup following a 75-67 win over Angola at the Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday, August 29.
Riding the bench for most of the game after picking up four fouls through the first three quarters, the Minnesota Timberwolves star avoided disqualification and hit a pair of crucial free throws late to bring the Dominicans home.
He scored 5 of his 8 points in the final period and tallied 2 rebounds and 2 blocks in just 15 minutes as the Dominican Republic ended the group stage with a 3-0 record – a feat he knows would bring his mother joy.
“I want the fans, I want everyone who has been supporting us to know that we’re not just doing this for ourselves or our families but we’re doing it for their families, we’re doing it for our country,” said Towns.
“We’re doing it for the mothers who gave us men a chance to live this dream.”
Born in the United States, Towns traces his Dominican roots to his late mother Jacqueline, who died due to complications from the coronavirus during the height of the pandemic in 2020.
Three years later, the sweet-shooting big man is back representing the Dominican Republic over a decade since his last stint with the national team.
“It means a lot that we get to do this for our mothers and make them proud. I know they’re above looking down on us really happy and proud that their boys are doing pretty well in the world,” he said.
Towns added he is ecstatic to exceed expectations as the Dominicans went unbeaten in the preliminary round for the first time in the World Cup.
After outlasting Gilas Pilipinas, Dominican Republic stunned world No. 10 Italy and then fended off a gutsy challenge from Angola to become the first team from Group A to qualify for the second round.
“I think this was just a culmination of all of our hard work since we were young, coming together to give our country a chance to win in the World Cup. This is one of the pinnacles of basketball,” said Towns.
“And for us to come out here, to not be heavily looked on as a team that can do a lot of damage or win a lot of games here, and for us to come out here and do something really special so far is an amazing feeling.”
Carrying over its 3-0 card, the Dominican Republic will face the top two teams from Group A in the crossover second round as it tries to reach the final phase for the first time in history. – Rappler.com