USA Earns 90-62 Victory To Advance To AmeriCup Gold Medal Game
Xavier Munford’s (Greensboro Swarm) double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds helped power the USA Men’s AmeriCup Team (4-0) to a dominating 90-62 win over U.S. Virgin Islands (1-3) in the FIBA AmeriCup semifinals on Saturday night in Cordoba, Argentina.
The win advances the USA to the AmeriCup gold medal game, where it will meet 4-0 and host Argentina, which posted an 84-67 win over Mexico (3-1) in the night's second semifinals game. The gold medal game will be played at 8 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Sept. 3, and it will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
“It's going to be a dogfight, predicted Munford on Sunday’s gold medal clash. “I think about Uruguay (where the USA defeated the host country 74-66), times 10. That's what is in my mind as I prepare for it. You saw the way we started that game. I don't want to take any chances and come out and start the game the way we did versus Uruguay. It's going to have to be a full 40 minutes of our undivided attention on both offense and defense.”
In addition to Munford’s double-double, four other U.S. players were credited with double-digit scoring, including Jameel Warney (Texas Legends), who tallied 12 points, and three players with 10 points – Reggie Hearn (Reno Bighorns), Kendall Marshall (Reno Bighorns) and Reggie Williams (Oklahoma City Blue).
“I thought the Virgin Islands was a bit decimated by injuries. Our energy was a little low, but our bench played very well. It has been the greatest strength of our team. Xavier Munford had a great, great night. I'm very happy for him,” said USA AmeriCup head coach Jeff Van Gundy.
“Our energy is going to have to be at a much higher level to beat either Argentina or Mexico, because both are outstanding teams. We have a big challenge ahead of us. I like our team, though. We have a good team when we are playing hard on defense and passing the ball,” added Van Gundy, the former NBA New York Knicks and Houston Rockets head coach.
Using a 12-3 run to open the game and take control, the USA then outscored the U.S. Virgin Islands 10-2 over the final 3:36 to take charge, 22-10, after the first 10 minutes.
Up 24-10 early in the second period, the Americans posted a 13-6 scoring run to push its lead to 37-20, and at halftime the USA was in control, 44-27.
“Coach Van Gundy had been preaching to us since training camp from his experiences, the teams that lose are those that come out and take the game for granted,” Larry Drew II (Sioux Falls Skyforce) said. “We were going into this game knowing no matter what, it's going to be a hard-fought game. The U.S. Virgin Islands, they had an upset in the previous round, so we wanted to make our presence felt from the beginning, so that was our focus."
Adding a 10-5 offensive spurt to open the third quarter, the USA saw its lead balloon to 54-32. The U.S. Virgin Islands cut the gap to 15, but by the end of third the score read 62-42.
Outscoring their opponents 28-20 in the final 10 minutes, the USA came away with its impressive and convincing 90-62 victory.
“We started out a little slow with our defensive energy. That's something we pride ourselves in since training camp. But, tomorrow, we know the task. and we're going to come ready to compete for a gold medal,” stated Munford.
The USA defensive effort continued to lead the way to the win. The U.S. pressured the U.S. Virgin Islands into 33.3 percent shooting for the game, and just 26.9 percent from 3.
The USA controlled the glass to the tune of 50-33, and its rebounding effort in addition to Munford’s 10 were aided by eight rebounds from Marshall Plumlee and six from Warney.
Recording 22 assists on 32 made baskets, Larry Drew II (Sioux Falls Skyforce) led the red, white and blue with seven and Billy Baron (UCAM Murcia (Spain) accounted for five assists.
The USA bench outscored the Islanders 49-27.
“You dream of moments like this, to play for a championship or play for a gold medal,” said Plumlee. “This one hits home for me in particular just because my love for my country. That's something that is shared in the locker room. The opportunity to wear USA on your chest, it's something that when you start playing basketball, that you never know if you'll be able to do. You watch the greats do it. But, here and now is our team. We want to take advantage of it and not leave anything on the table. We're playing with no regrets."
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.