U.S. Men Handle Virgin Islands 119-84 in Pan American Games Opener
The U.S. men put on an offensive show in their Pan American Games debut and recorded a 119-84 victory over Virgin Islands Wednesday at Dibos Coliseum. The USA sped to a 14-5 lead and was never threatened throughout the contest. The U.S. men's basketball team is comprised of athletes who compete in the BIG EAST Conference.
Team USA will play highly-regarded Venezuela Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
Alpha Diallo (Providence) led Team USA with 20 points. Myles Powell (Seton Hall) had 19 points and Jermaine Samuels (Villanova) added 16 points. The U.S. shot 52 percent from the field and connected on 17-of-34 shots from 3-point range. They also won the rebounding battle 42-28.
“I thought our depth was an important factor today along with our 3-point shooting,” said head coach Ed Cooley. “We got contributions from everyone. We have to guard the ball a little better moving forward, but today was a good day for us.”
The game could not have started any better for Team USA. Diallo took a pass from Collin Gillespie (Villanova) on the first possession of the game and hit a 3-pointer. The next time down the floor, Geoff Groselle (Creighton) made a couple of free throws. Then, Gillespie made it 8-0 with another trey. The defense forced two shot clock violations on the first two Virgin Islands possessions and Diallo blocked a shot on the third.
Team USA made seven 3-pointers in the opening period that ended with a 39-23 lead.
The BIG EAST group went to work inside in the second quarter with Diallo scoring a pair of baskets early in the stanza. Virgin Islands was able to cut into the advantage temporarily as the Team USA white-hot shooting cooled down, but a Powell 3-pointer in the final minute sent the his team into the locker room with a 56-43 edge. Team USA made 57 percent from the field in the first half.
“We are able to do a lot of switching and I think that disrupted them,” said Diallo. “We made a significant number of threes and that provided a nice cushion for us.”
The BIG EAST Conference is representing USA Basketball at the Pan American Games. Providence’s Ed Cooley is the team’s head coach. Kevin Willard of Seton Hall and Mike Martin of Brown are the assistant coaches.
The Pan American Games is a multi-sport event featuring teams from North, South and Central American and the Caribbean, which is organized by the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) and played every four years in the year preceding the Olympics (2019, 2023, etc.).
Player roster, profiles and additional information are located at www.bigeast.com/panam.