U.S. Offense On Target In 88-58 AmeriCup Win Over Panama
The U.S. was certainly ready to shoot following a wet 24 hours south of the equator.
After the second half of Sunday’s AmeriCup game against Venezuela was suspended due to leaks in the roof at Geraldão Arena in Recife, Brazil, the Americans were on target in their preliminary round game Monday against Panama.
Norris Cole, a 6-foot-2 guard who played at Cleveland State and has seen time with three NBA teams, scored a game-high 17 points and hit five 3-pointers as the U.S. cruised to a 30-point win, 88-58, at a time when the team needed a victory to stay in the hunt for an eighth AmeriCup gold medal.
Monday’s game featured scoring from all 12 U.S. players and a near double-double by Gary Clark (9 points, 11 rebounds). The team assisted on 25 of their 34 buckets, with Jeremy Pargo (6 assists) and Craig Sword (5 assists) leading the charge. Eight players combined for 16 3-pointers.
It was a fast start from the USA in a wire-to-wire win that began with a Clark 3-pointer and Stephen Zimmerman reverse layup putting the U.S. ahead, 5-0.
Cole delivered his first 3-pointer from the wing in the game’s early moments, standing outside the 3-point line with no defender near him as Panama employed a ball-chasing zone.
The U.S. used quick ball movement against that zone, and the result was a steady attack of open 3-point shots. The U.S. hit 12 3-pointers in the first half alone, including 6-of-9 in the opening quarter.
After struggling with its 3-point shooting in the opening game against Mexico on Friday, the U.S. has been strong from long range since the loss. The Americans hit eight 3-pointers in the first half of the Venezuela game and doubled that today.
As the final seconds counted down in the opening half, Cole put an exclamation point on it. Holding the ball, he began to dribble forward, then backed up and drilled his fourth 3-pointer of the game as the half-ending buzzer sounded.
The U.S. hit 11 of its first 15 shots and wound up hitting 34-of-66 for a .515 shooting percentage. Sword, who didn’t miss a shot in the first half of the Venezuela game, hit 5-of-7 shots. Jodie Meeks and Pargo each hit 2-of-3 on 3-pointers, and Pargo hit double-figures in scoring for the second consecutive game with 10 points.
Isaac Hall Machore led Panama (0-3) with 12 points and 3 assists.
The U.S., which dropped its opening game of the tournament to Mexico, is positioned for its second win Tuesday when they resume play against Venezuela at 2:10 p.m. ET. The Americans hold a 48-21 halftime lead.
A victory Tuesday would vault the U.S. into a tie for first place in Group C with Venezuela and Mexico, and a seven-point victory over Venezuela would position the Americans at the top of the group. Mexico dropped the last of its group games to Venezuela, 80-74, on Monday.
Paul D Bowker is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.