Puerto Rico players hope win brings joy to recovering island
By DOUG FEINBERG
SYDNEY (AP) Puerto Rico captain Pamela Rosado hopes the team's first victory in the women's World Cup can provide a small bit of joy to the island that's been ravaged by Hurricane Fiona.
The island's government said some 62% of 1.47 million customers remained without power Thursday, a few days after it was devastated by Fiona. A third of customers, or more than 400,000, did not yet have water service.
"The win yesterday was everything for us, for Puerto Rico. This game is everything for the island," Rosado said of the team's 82-58 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina on Thursday. "My family is OK, they have no water, no power, but they keep going. They were so appreciative of the win to get a little joy and pride."
The destruction from Fiona was made more devastating because Puerto Rico has yet to recover from Hurricane Maria, which destroyed the power grid in 2017. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes on the island are still covered by blue tarps.
"It's super big. We are fortunate enough to be over here with what's going on over there," Puerto Rico guard Jen O'Neill said. "A lot of us have family members that are having to deal with that."
The team was winless in its three games at the 2018 World Cup, which came a year after Maria hit. But now Puerto Rico has a chance to advance to the quarterfinals if it can win one of its next three games.
"We are taking it one game at a time, but know that the game against Korea will be big," Rosado said.
Puerto Rico wasn't even supposed to be in the tournament, but was given a spot when Russia wasn't allowed to compete following its invasion of Ukraine.
"We want to take advantage of this opportunity and showcase that we're growing," O'Neill said. "We are a small island surrounded by water and get hit by everything."
Puerto Rico struggled, as expected, against the U.S., falling 106-42 on Friday. T he plight of the island left an impression on American Breanna Stewart.
"To see Puerto Rico get the win yesterday, they are obviously playing with a sense of pride, continuing to represent their country in all the ways possible," Stewart said. "A lot of times in the world we are going through unfortunate situations and Puerto Rico is going through that right now, but I think they are turning the sadness into strength."
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Updated September 23, 2022