San Juan, Puerto Rico Daniel Santiago's hook shot was bouncing softly around the rim when Elton Brand reached up and knocked it off. It would have been goaltending in the NBA, but not under international rules.
The play kept Puerto Rico from pulling within two points midway through the second quarter, and it never got that close again as the United States won 91-65 Thursday night in its final game of the second round at the Tournament of the Americas.
"Lot of attempts, but that was my first one ever," Brand said. "It's not instinctive, and you have to be instinctive to go up there and hit it when it can still go in."
The teams will play again Saturday night in the semifinals, with a berth in the Athens Olympics at stake.
The loser will get another chance at qualifying for Athens Sunday in the third-place game against the loser of the Canada-Argentina semifinal.
Tim Duncan led the U.S. team with 16 points as the Americans improved to 8-0 in this tournament.
Tracy McGrady made a surprise return to the U.S. starting lineup two days after he said his sprained back would prevent him from playing in the remainder of the tournament. He finished with six points in 17 minutes.
Duncan had 10 of the U.S. team's first 18 points, but the Americans couldn't shake Puerto Rico until the second quarter. A dunk by Jose "Piculin" Ortiz and a fast-break layup by Sharif Fajardo prompted U.S. coach Larry Brown to call a timeout with his team leading just 28-27, and the Americans came out of the break playing with a greater sense of urgency.
A baseline drive and dunk by Ray Allen was followed by a difficult off-balance jumper from the lane by Allen Iverson, making it 34-30, and Brand's non-goaltending play kept the score that way.
Kansas University product Nick Collison scored five points.