USA AmeriCup Team Rolls Past Dominican Republic 72-56, Into Semifinals
After scoring the game’s first points - a Kendall Marshall (Reno Bighorns) jumper with the game just 13 seconds old - the USA Men’s AmeriCup Team (3-0) never trailed en route to a 72-56 win over Dominican Republic (1-2) on Wednesday evening in Montevideo, Uruguay. The win assures the USA the top seed for Group C and a spot in the medal semifinals.
With AmeriCup preliminary round play now completed, the four teams advancing to the AmeriCup semifinals are set. The United States and Group B second-place finisher U.S. Virgin Islands (1-2) will meet on Sept. 2 (time TBA), in Córdoba, Argentina, while Group A champion Mexico (3-0) will face Group B number one seed and host, Argentina (3-0) in the other semifinal.
Winners of the semifinals games will advance to the Sept. 3 gold medal game and semifinals losers will square off in the bronze medal game (the full FIBA AmeriCup 2017 schedule and results is available to view at (usab.com/mens/americup/schedule.aspx).
“I thought our level of readiness to compete tonight was very high. We set a good tone defensively. We got to the basket and attacked. That’s a good combination, when you attack on offense and you’re ready to guard defensively,” “said Jeff Van Gundy, USA AmeriCup head coach.
“Tonight, we didn’t shoot the ball well from the perimeter and we won despite that. I think those are the satisfying wins when the ball is not going in the basket and you play well. I think our guys played through a tough night from a shooting standpoint, and did other things exceptionally well. That’s what allowed us to win.”
Getting six points from Darrun Hilliard, the Americans wasted little time in building a 10-2 lead. Limiting Dominican Republic to 13 points on 25.0 percent shooting in the opening 10 minutes, the Dominicans didn’t net their first field goal until 2:50 was left in the quarter.
The Dominican Republic made its second 3 of the quarter with 25 seconds left in the period, and after the first 10 minutes the USA led 20-13.
The USA advantage was down to six, 21-15, early in the second quarter, but an 8-2 run pushed the U.S. back ahead, 27-15. The Dominican squad refused to fold and after cutting the USA lead to 33-26, the USA, behind four points from Jameel Warney (Texas Legends), closed the first half owning a 38-28 lead.
The third quarter started with U.S. guards C.J. Williams (Texas Legends) and Reggie Hearn (Reno Bighorns) sandwiching 3s around a Marshall Plumlee jumper, and the USA lead was quickly expanded to 46-28. After three quarters, the USA led 54-40.
Starting the fourth like it had quarters one and three, the U.S. ripped off seven straight points to move ahead 61-40 and from that point sailed in for the 71-56 win.
“The win today was all about defense,” said USA guard Marshall. “I think we held them to a low shooting percentage. We finished plays with rebounds. I think the points that they did get, came from self-inflicted mistakes. When we don’t beat ourselves, we can guard anyone.”
C.J. Williams paced the USA's offense with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, grabbed five boards and was credited with four steals. Hilliard and Warney added 13 points apiece, and Warney came within a rebound of notching a double-double, pulling in a team-best nine.
The U.S. shot 47.4 percent (27-57 FGs) from the field, held the islanders to just 30.4 percent (21-69 FGs) and the North American bench outscored Dominican Republic's reserves 46-30.
“You have to give credit to our coaching staff. Just two weeks ago, we didn’t know each other, so we put in a lot of work to get to this point. We’re not finished yet. We have two more games to win, and I hope we can do that,” said Warney.
USA center Jonathan Holmes (Canton Charge) suffered a sprained right ankle in the first quarter and is listed day-to-day.
Van Gundy is being assisted by current NBA G League Northern Arizona Suns head mentor Ty Ellis and veteran international coach Mo McHone.
The FIBA AmeriCup 2017, considered the FIBA Americas zone championship, features 12 nations from North America, Central America, the Caribbean and South America.
A USA men’s national team last participated in the FIBA Americas Championship in 2007, when the U.S. rumbled over its opposition in Las Vegas and finished 10-0 to win gold and capture one of the FIBA Americas zone's two qualifying berths for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Overall, USA Basketball officially has fielded teams in eight FIBA Americas Championships, winning six gold (2007, 2003, 1999, 1997, 1993 and 1992) and one silver medal (1989), while compiling a 60-10 win-loss record.