Romar Coaches U.S. Juniors to Gold Medal Game

July 1, 2006

SAN ANTIONIO, Texas - Lorenzo Romar has experienced a great deal of success in his role as the Washington men's basketball coach. Now he is thriving in the same capacity with the United States' under-18 men's team.

Romar directed the Americans into the championship game on the strength of a 92-66 semifinal victory Saturday over Canada at the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men at Bill Greehy Arena, St. Mary's University.

The U.S. team (3-0) relied on its suffocating defense and a commanding 62-37 rebounding advantage to propel them into Sunday's gold medal contest against Argentina at 3 p.m. Pacific Time. Argentina (4-0) also remained perfect in tournament play with a 90-73 win over Brazil on Saturday. The U.S. men defeated Brazil 90-66 in Friday's quarterfinal round.

Canada will face Brazil (1-2) in the bronze medal game, and Puerto Rico (1-2) will play Uruguay (1-2) in the fifth place game. With a top four finish now for Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the U.S. assured, the four nations have earned the four qualifying berths for the 2007 FIBA U19 World Championship.

'I was proud of our guys. The guys came out and set the tempo, set the tone really early on the defensive end,' remarked Romar.

'We try to pressure and we try to play relentless defense for 40 minutes. We don't always accomplish it, but that's the goal. We didn't shoot the ball well, but if you can do a decent job defensively, it will compensate for any lack of offense that you have and it will even generate offense for you. Even with that we scored over 90 points,' added the USA mentor.

Canada led 7-5 with 5:59 left in the opening quarter, but the USA quickly distanced itself from their neighbors to the North, posting a 12-0 run that consumed 3:05 and left the score 17-7 with 2:54 remaining.

The U.S. went on to grab a 21-10 lead after the first quarter. Neither team shot well during the first 10 minutes. While the USA defense limited Canada to just 15.7 percent shooting overall for the quarter, including 1-of-9 from beyond the 3-point line, the U.S. hit just 28.0 percent of its shots, but controlled the glass and outrebounded the Canadians 20-10, nine being offensive boards, committing just one lone turnover.

Another large run by the USA spelled the end for Canada's hopes of advancing to the gold medal game for the first time. With the U.S. ahead 28-17, following back-to-back baskets by Canada's Oluseyi Ashaolu, the Americans got help from five different players and ran off 16 straight points to blow the game open 44-17.

Taking a 46-25 lead to the locker room at halftime, the USA maintained its large cushion, and Canada was unable close the gap. The U.S. lead never fell below 18 in the third quarter, and after 30 minutes the advantage stood at a comfortable 19 points, 63-44.

The fourth quarter was more of the same as the outcome of the game was not in question.

'We anticipate Argentina to be a better team than anyone we've faced down here so far,' incoming Washington freshman Spencer Hawes (Seattle Prep/Seattle, Wash.) speculated. The 6-foot-11 center was credited with seven points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in 21 minutes.

'We realize what is at stake. This is the gold medal, and the USA has only lost one time in this tournament so we know what is at stake,' Hawes concluded.

(Some text courtesy of USA Basketball)
For more details, including a complete game recap and boxscore go to: USA Basketball

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