USA U21 Finalists Overpower Ukraine
USA U21 Finalists Overpower Ukraine 119-64 In Global Games Action
Rajon Rondo gathers up his teammates during a quick break on the floor. He, Nick Fazekas (left) and Curtis Withers helped the U.S. U21 men capture their first victory -- a 119-64 win over Ukraine.
FRISCO, Texas (July 27, 2005) - Finalists for the 2005 U21 Men's World Championship Team (1-0) stifled Ukraine (2-2) defensively in their Global Games opener Wednesday afternoon at the Dr. Pepper Star Center in Frisco, Texas, en route to a 119-64 victory. The U.S., which is using the 2005 Global Games as a tune-up for the 2005 FIBA U21 World Championship, to be played Aug. 5-14 in Cordoba and Mar del Plata, Argentina, was buoyed to the win by Curtis Withers' (Charlotte / Charlotte, N.C.) 22 points off the bench.
The United States continues Global Games play against Slovenia (0-2) on July 28 at 8:00 p.m. (all times CDT), followed by an 8:00 p.m. tip-off against Lithuania (1-0) on July 29, and the gold medal game is scheduled for July 30 at 8:00 p.m.
"What we were trying to do was to give everybody a fair shot so that we can honestly get down from 16 to 12 players, so we split it up into quarters," said USA and Saint Joseph's University (Pa.) head coach Phil Martelli. "We didn't tell the players that before the game, we let them figure it out. What I was really interested in was getting in the bright lights. It's good to practice, but you've got to get out with the lights on, in front of the referees, in front of the crowds, with the score, and then you really see some things about players."
The United States opened the game with a Taj Gray (Oklahoma / Wichita, Kan.) put-back at 8:55 and never trailed in the contest. Playing tough defense and breaking Ukraine's zone with a trio of threes, the USA held an 18-6 lead with 3:55 remaining in the first quarter as Justin Gray (Wake Forest / Charlotte, N.C.) tossed in a pair and Rudy Gay (Connecticut / Baltimore, Md.) got a third trey. The U.S. continued to take the suspense out of the game by reeling off 10 straight points and picking Ukraine's pocked three times in the final 2:00 of the quarter to go up 30-11. At halftime the USA's lead had not only expanded to 29 points, 59-30, but the young Americans had been credited with 15 steals and forced 26 turnovers, more than one a minute in that span.
"They tried to start in a zone, I guess they thought we couldn't shoot the ball," said J.J. Redick (Duke / Roanoke, Va.), who shot 3-of-6 from 3-point in the first half and finished with 14 points. "But we knocked down a bunch of Js in the first half. We were just more athletic and quicker than they were."
By the third quarter the U.S. owned an 89-45 advantage and cruised in for the final 119-64 victory.
In addition to Withers' 22 points and Redick's 14, the USA's effort was aided by 13 from Justin Gray, while Aaron Brooks (Oregon / Seattle, Wash.) and Gay tossed in 11 points apiece. Taj Gray grabbed a team-high six rebounds, Darius Washington, Jr. (Memphis / Winter Park, Fla.) passed off for four assists; while Taj Gray, Terrence Roberts (Syracuse / Jersey City, N.J.) and Withers came up with four steals apiece.
Oleksiy Pecherov led his team with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
The game ended with Ukraine coughing up the ball 48 times on 30 U.S. steals. Passing off for 28 assists on 43 baskets (47.9 percent of the shots were assisted), the United States shot a sizzling 50.0 percent (12-24 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc to foil Ukraine's plan of defending in a zone.
"In the scrimmage we had on Sunday we were a little unorganized, we ran around because we didn't really have any plays set yet," said Withers. "We also weren't really familiar playing with each other, as far as a game concept goes. It took the last two days, four good practices, getting in plays, executions, as well knowing what we had to do to win and getting rebounds. That's what we did today." More...
* Game Story HTML ; / PDF ; (includes box score and schedule)
* Box Score ;
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* 2005 FIBA U21 World Championship Schedule
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