Justin Jackson scores 26, helps U.S. advance

By R.L. Bynum

Justin Jackson was feeling the patriotism as he helped the United States World Cup Qualifying Team advance to the second round of the Americas Qualifiers with an 87–64 Fourth of July victory in Havana over host Cuba.

Jackson, 27, followed up a record 26-point game in an 83–75 Saturday win against Puerto Rico with 13 points Monday against Cuba. His 3-pointer to open the second quarter gave the Americans the lead for good against the Cubans.

“Unbelievable experience being able to play for my country and a once-in-a-lifetime experience playing in Cuba on Fourth of July!” Jackson tweeted Tuesday.

In Saturday’s big game against Puerto Rico, his first senior-level FIBA game, Jackson was 9 of 15 from the floor and 5 of 10 from 3-point range. The 26 points were a single-game record for a U.S. World Cup qualifying game.

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“It’s a blessing to be in this situation,” Jackson said after being picked by USAB national team director Sean Ford. “They pick 12 guys, and for me to be one of those, I can’t say thank you enough to Sean and USA Basketball. For me, I just try to go out there and just help the team in whatever way I possibly [can].”

The only other former ACC player on the team was former Duke guard Quinn Cook.

Jackson played most of last season in the G League for the Texas Legends, the Dallas Mavericks’ affiliate, and played in seven games over a couple of stints with the Phoenix Suns. In 38 G League games, Jackson averaged more than 22 points.

Before joining the U.S. team for those games in Cuba, Jackson participated in pickup games with current and former Tar Heels at the Smith Center.

Photo via @JJacks_44

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