CARACAS, Venezuela — Jamaica led most of the way against Uruguay, but sloppy play at crucial stages saw them succumbing to a gut-wrenching 66-68 loss to their Group A opponents at the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Americas Championship here, yesterday.
Uruguay went two points ahead with a shade over two seconds remaining and Jamaica's Durand Scott agonisingly missed his buzzer-beating three-point effort as the JamRockerZ slumped to defeat.
It was the Jamaicans' second loss in as many days at the Poliedro de Caracas after being blown out 64-85 by Canada on Friday.
Despite the disappointment, the JamRockerZ remain with a chance of progressing to the second round since four of the five teams in each of the two groups will move on to the second round.
Forward Samardo Samuels led Jamaica with 19 points from 6/13 shooting to go with six rebounds and two assists.
The lively Akeem Scott, who played over 36 minutes, was 4/7 from three-point range to end with 18 points. The six-foot two-inch point guard also had four steals and two assists.
Shooting guard Weyinmi Rose, scorer of 10 points during Jamaica's bright run in the first quarter, ended with 15.
Uruguay's centre Esteban Batista led all scorers with 22 points.
Jamaica's head coach Sam Vincent conceded that his team's lack of experience at this level was a factor.
"We played better than we did against Canada, but at times we made too many errors. All credit to Uruguay for the victory. We have to work hard day-to-day, but we don't have much experience at these tournaments," Vincent said.
Uruguay's coach Pablo Lopez said he knew that once his team "put away the errors" they could win the game.
JamRockerZ started in energetic fashion — in stark contrast to the nondescript effort seen in the early stages of the encounter against Canada.
They flew into a 10-2 lead, however a combination of poor turnovers and improved play from the Uruguayans left the scores tied at 17 at the end of the first quarter.
The Uruguay team continued their resurgence throughout the second quarter and led 34-31 at the half-time break.
Jamaica started the second half like they did the first, and after back-to-back three pointers from Akeem Scott, sped to a 50-42 advantage before six unanswered points from the Uruguayans cut the lead to only two heading into the fourth and final period.
With almost five and a half minutes left on the clock, the South Americans took a 57-55 lead through a three pointer from guard Bruno Fitipaldo.
But the battling Jamaicans kept in touch and a pair of clutch free throws from Samuels with 15.4 seconds remaining, brought the scores level at 66-66 to ensure a tense finale.
However, Vincent's team was left heartbroken after Uruguay scored and the Jamaicans failed to respond.
The Jamaicans have a break today before clashing with Puerto Rico tomorrow at 1:00 pm Ja time.
On Tuesday, JamRockerZ will close out the preliminary phase with a 7:00 pm clash with Brazil.
The four semi-finalists automatically qualify for the FIBA World Cup next year in Spain.