USA U19 Men Take Gold With 88-80 Win Over Greece
-- USA Wins First FIBA U19 World Championship Gold Since 1991 --
July 12, 2009 - Auckland, New Zealand
The 18 year drought between FIBA U19 World Championships is over for the United States men. Behind 18 points from Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas / Jersey City, N.J.) and another balanced scoring effort that featured seven players contributing eight or more points, the USA fended off a determined Greek team to post an 88-80 victory Sunday night in the FIBA World Championship gold medal game in Auckland, New Zealand.
The USA squad, led by University of Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon, finished with a spotless 9-0 record and recorded a 22.2 margin of victory in the championship.
-We really set as a goal to win the gold medal. We also made it very clear that we hadn't won this since 1991, we talked about that and we used that as motivation throughout the month we've been together and I think it was really an important part of our work ethic and what we did. We did a great job of committing to one another for a month and I thought it was just great. We had great kids that worked all the way through and committed to getting the gold medal and gave up, sacrificed individual glory," said Dixon.
-This team was unique as far as U.S. teams. I think it was better suited for international. We may not have had as many name guys as other teams, but I really thought it was suited and I think we selected guys that were suited to the international game and the FIBA rules. We really shot the ball well, we were skilled, we were a good free throw shooting team and I think that was something that was beneficial to us."
The USA, medal winners now in seven of the nine FIBA U19 World Championships, hadn't won the tournament since finishing 8-0 in 1991, capturing seventh (4-4) in 1995, silver (7-1) in 1999, fifth in 2003 and silver in 2007 in Novi Sad, Serbia.
A panel of accredited media representatives covering the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship selected the MVP and the All-Star Five of the Tournament. The All-Star Five of the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship featured Taylor and Gordon Hayward (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.) of the USA, Toni Prostran (Croatia), Nikos Pappas (Greece), and Mario Delas (Croatia), who was also selected MVP of the championship.
-We got off to a 16 point lead at halftime and I thought we had played well. In the second half they came out and gave their run. I thought we didn't get as good of a shot as we wanted and they hit a couple of big threes, one was a touch shot, another one was a transition one. You knew they were going to make a run and I think we withstood it pretty well and then kept the separation. We had a number of guys in foul trouble, we had to play through some things."
Neither team led by more than two points in the first quarter as the first 10 minutes played out even at 19-19.
The USA opened some breathing room after running off a 16-1 offensive onslaught over the course of the second quarter's first five minutes. Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.) started the run and accounted for six of the team's first eight points in the spurt, then Terrico White (Mississippi / Memphis, Tenn.) finished it off with a fastbreak basket and a 3-pointer that left the USA holding a 35-20 lead with 5:07 to play before half.
|Tyshawn Taylor (FIBA Photo)|
Arnett Moultire (UTEP / Memphis, Tenn.), four points, and Taylor, seven points, accounted for all of the USA points over the remainder of the quarter and the red, white and blue headed to the locker room at halftime leading 46-30.
Greece, which made just 7-of 27 shots(.259 percent) in the first half and made only two field goals in the second quarter, managed to keep within striking range thanks to 14-of-16 shooting (6-of-8 in the second quarter) from the foul line.
With the U.S. leading 50-34 with 7:13 to play in the third quarter, Greece ripped off eight straight points and the once comfortable USA lead was down to 50-42 with 5:38 still left in the third stanza.
|Terrico White (FIBA Photo)|
John Shurna (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.) connected on the second of two free throws to halt the run and White added a jumper to push the U.S. back ahead 53-42. Greece scored six straight to make the score 53-48, but thanks to 7-of-8 clutch free throw shooting in the third quarter's final 2:24, the USA lead was back to nine, 60-51, at the end of the third period.
The U.S. opened the final quarter with five points, the last two coming off of a Darius Miller (Kentucky / Lexington, Ky.) steal, and a Moultrie slam off the feed from Taylor, and had pushed its led to 65-51. Greece nailed back to back 3-pointers to reduce the American advantage to 65-57 with 7:52 to play, but Gibbs made a pair of free throws and Klay Thompson (Washington State / Ladera Ranch, Calif.) dropped a three to re-up the USA lead to 70-57.
Although Greece would not go away, they never again got closer than eight points.
In a foul heavy contest, Greece shot 26-of-36 from the charity stripe, while the USA, after making 8-of-8 free throws in the final 1:22, was 26-of-32 from the line. The USA hit 28 of its 57 shots, including 6-15 from 3-point. The American defense forced Greece into 41.4 percent shooting overall.
-It was a physical, grind out game. We knew they were a physical team. We played them once before and they played us tough and they played us tough once again. They've got some great players on their team and they played well as a team as well. But we withstood the run they had in the second half and we got the win," commented Gibbs.
-I think defense towards the end of the game was the key. We got key stops and we hit key shots and that's what I really think were keys. We had a lot of fast break points and got out in transition. They wanted to slow the ball down a little bit more and we just tried to get into our game which was fast breaking."
Taylor added six assists and five steals to his 18 points, Gibbs recorded 13 points, Thompson tossed in 10 points and swatted three shots, and Moultrie finished with 10 points while grabbing a team best nine rebounds. White and Seth Curry (Duke / Charlotte, N.C.) contributed nine points each, and Miller was credited with eight points.
In other finals play Sunday, Croatia (7-2) bounced back from its disappointing semifinals loss to the U.S. and held off Australia (7-2) 87-81 in the bronze medal thriller; Argentina (5-4) slammed Puerto Rico (5-4) 92-70 to claim fifth place; and Canada (4-5) put down France (3-6) 84-72 to capture seventh place.
Dixon is being assisted on the USA sidelines by collegiate head coaches Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois University and Matt Painter of Purdue University.