Medal Hopes For USA Juniors Come Crashing Down
July 16, 2003
THESSALONIKI, Greece - Behind a balanced Australian scoring attack that saw six players finish in double figures, Australia handed the U.S. juniors a 106-85 loss to end the USA's medal hopes at the 7th FIBA Junior World Championship on Wednesday evening. The loss left the United States standing 2-1 (5-1 overall) and in a three-way tie in the Group E quarterfinals standings tied with Australia (2-1 in quarterfinals, 5-1 overall) and Lithuania (2-1 in quarterfinals, 4-2 overall). Based on the International Basketball Federation's (FIBA) tie breaking formula of the point differential between the three teams for their games against each other, Australia earned the Group's number one seed, Lithuania ranked second and USA fell to third.
The USA and Australia entered the final quarterfinals match-up knowing because of previous results that Australia would have to defeat the U.S. by six or more points if it hoped to advance.
Getting two days off, the USA returns to the court on Saturday in the consolation semifinals and will face Slovenia (game time TBD). The USA and Slovenia tangled in the opening game of preliminary round play on July 10 and the U.S. came out on top 84-83 in a down-to-the wire game. The U.S. juniors will wrap up the World Championship on Sunday, July 20. For weekend USA results from the Junior World Championships, please go to www.usabasketball.com.
Winning the silver medal with a 7-1 record at the 1999 Junior World Championship that was held in Portugal, the United States juniors last won gold the FIBA Junior World Championship in 1991.
The USA's disappointing loss took the shine away from an outstanding showing by Michigan State forward Paul Davis (Rochester, Mich.). Davis scored 28 points on 10-for18 shooting from the field, and grabbed 15 rebounds, seven of those offensive.
UCLA's Ryan Hollins, starting his fourth straight game, played 28 minutes, with nine points (4-10, 0-0, 1-2), seven rebounds (4-3) and one steal.
'Australia is a very good basketball team. If you look at the game they were better organized, better coached and they wanted the game much more than the United States,' stated U. S. head coach Ernie Kent. 'In watching their previous games, we could see how organized and how hard they played and tonight was no different. They played extremely well and were the better team tonight.
'You feel sad because you come this far unbeaten then you lose a game and you don't go forward in terms of getting into the medal round. But that's the way this tournament is set up and it is a very, very competitive tournament' One that does not allow you to relax at any time, because you can get beaten and that's exactly what happened in this ball game. We ran into a team that was really on its game, and was very inspired to move forward and we weren't on our game and we weren't inspired and so they ended up beating us,' Kent added.
Things started well for the U.S. as De'Angelo Alexander (Oklahoma/Midwest City, Okla.) and Daniel Brown (Illinois/Maywood, Ill.) scored seven and six points each and the USA raced out to a 13-2 lead with just under three minutes lapsed. Australia cut the deficit to 15-13, and the U.S. countered with six straight points to take a 21-13 advantage with 1:48 to play in the opening quarter. Australia closed the quarter with an 8-0 run and after the first period the score was tied at 21 all.
The two teams traded baskets for the first five minutes of the second quarter and with 4:48 to play the score was still even, 39-39. With the USA's shooting suddenly turning cold, Australia assembled a game deciding 15-3 run over the next 3:10 to take charge 57-42. The USA finished off the first half by outscoring the Aussies 6-3 to cut Australia's advantage at halftime to 12, 60-48.
Australia shot a sizzling 64.9 percent (24-37 FGs) in the first 20 minutes, while the Americans, after making 6-of-7 to start the contest, finished the first half 18-for-37 from the floor for 48.6 percent.
The USA's hole was dug deeper when Australia scored the third quarter's first five points to push ahead 65-48. The U.S. rallied behind a 11-4 run that saw points come from five different U.S. players and Australia's lead cut to 10, 69-59 with 5:29 to play in the third period. Australia put a stop to the USA surge and countered with six straight points to once again grab control 75-59. Following five points from Davis, the U.S. was still in contention, trailing 75-64 with 2:52 to play in the third stanza. However, Australia closed the quarter on a 10-4 run and had control 85-68 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter fared no better for the U.S. Able to score just four points over the final period's first six minutes, Australia's lead never fell below 17 as the Aussies rolled in for the win. The U.S., shooting just 37.6 percent (9-24 FGs) in the third quarter, saw its shooting touch ice to 26.1 percent (6-23 FGs) in the final 10 minutes.
In addition to Davis' strong offensive effort, the American team got 15 points and seven rebounds from Alexander, and Daniel Brown accounted for 14 points and seven assists. Australia was paced by Aaron Bruce's 25 points, while incoming University of Utah player Andrew Bogut added 22 points and 18 boards.
In Wednesday's other Group G game, Lithuania (2-1 in quarterfinals) defeated Puerto Rico (0-3 in quarterfinals, 2-4 overall) 90-77, while Group F Turkey handed Slovenia an 87-60 loss. In the consolation bracket, Venezuela earned a 71-62 win over Angola, South Korea defeated China 101-72, and Iran bested Malaysia 79-58. The day's final games to be played feature 5-0 Greece meeting Croatia, while Argentina squares off against Nigeria in the consolation round.
The 7th Annual FIBA Men's Junior World Championship is being held July 10-20 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Featuring 16 junior national teams that qualified last summer, eligibility for the 2003 USA Basketball Men's Junior World Championship Team is limited to any male athlete who is a U.S. citizen and 19-years-old or younger (born on or before Jan.1, 1984).
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