May is leading scorer in USA exhibition win

Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada -- Paced by Sean May's (North Carolina / Bloomington, Ind.) 16 points, the USA World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Team earned an 88-54 exhibition victory over the Canada Young Men's National Team Sunday afternoon in Saint John, Canada.

Played in front of 2,258 fans in the Harbour Station arena, the U.S. was further assisted by 15 points from Hassan Adams (Arizona / Los Angeles, Calif.), a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds from P.J. Tucker (Texas / Raleigh, N.C.), Justin Gray (Wake Forest / Charlotte, N.C.) scored 11 and Bracey Wright (Indiana / The Colony, Texas) chipped in 10.

"It was fun, it was a lot of fun," May said after the game. "It was everything I expected it to be. Our team meshed pretty well, we're doing great job of coming together. It was a fun experience.

When asked about the strength of the squad, May replied, "I feel it's our depth. Our second five are just as good as our first. We don't really know who's going to start once we get to Halifax, but I feel that we have a great all-around team. Some of these guys can do so many different things and are willing to take a step back and just play a role on this team. I think we have a good chance of winning this thing. But we don't want to get cocky and overlook anybody. We're going to take it day by day and team by team, just continue to play. We know that everybody's coming to get us because we have USA across our chest."

The U.S. used Sunday's game as a warm-up for the July 28-Aug. 1 2004 FIBA Americas World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament, which will be held in Halifax, Canada.

"We're going to take (this game) and use it as our base," said USA and University of Oklahoma head coach Kelvin Sampson. "The key for us is getting better for the next game. I thought that we had some sloppy moments, but our shot selection was good. For our very first game, playing 40 minutes and having only nine turnovers ... I thought that was outstanding. But we've got guys who can play better. For us, in this thing, we've got to get better each game. You have to remember that we've had 12 or 13 practices and this is our first time in a game situation. This team can play a lot better. I thought we played good today, but not as good as we can play."

Getting off to a slow start, the U.S. found itself tied with Canada 5-5 at 6:27. After another minute elapsed, Charlie Villanueva (Connecticut / Brooklyn, N.Y.) slammed in a crowd-pleasing dunk at 5:27 that gave the USA a lead (7-5) it would never relinquish.

Villanueva's two points sparked a 14-0 run by the red, white and blue that opened the game up 19-5 with 1:16 to go in the first period. Canada finally stopped the run with a free throw by Kevin Francis at 1:02, but the damage had already been done. The USA scored the quarter's final five points, including a Mustafa Shakur (Arizona / Philadelphia, Pa.) 3-pointer at the buzzer and the U.S. held a commanding 24-6 advantage after 10 minutes of play.

The USA's early dominance was further underscored by a first quarter 17-7 rebounding advantage. Additionally, the USA, which shot 45.5 percent (10-22 FGs) in the first quarter, held Canada to a frigid 13.3 percent (2-15 FGs) from the field during that span.

Canada mounted a 6-1 run to start the second period, closing the gap to 25-12 at 7:40. After swapping buckets over the next 1:57, the U.S. was in the lead by 12, 31-19, at 5:43. However, Adams, who scored 11 first half points, registered six points and assisted a David Padgett (Louisville / Reno, Nev.) jumper during an 8-0 run to pull away 39-19 at 2:48.

"Today we wanted to open up the game with what coach has been stressing: transition D, having fun, trying to play together and come together as a team," said Adams. "I felt we did that in the first half, we got comfortable with each other quickly. That's what got us over the hump and gave us the advantage in the first half."

By halftime the game was well in hand, 45-22. Canada never recovered as the United States won the third (27-19) and fourth quarters (16-13) for the eventual 88-54 victory.

In addition to the scoring efforts of Adams, May, Gray, Tucker and Wright, Chris Paul (Wake Forest / Lewisville, N.C.) passed off five of the USA's 14 assists and Adam Morrison (Gonzaga / Spokane, Wash.) was perfect from the field after nailing 3-of-3, including 1-of-1 from beyond the arc for seven points.

Garry Gallimore and the University of Kentucky's Sheray Thomas were credited for team highs of nine points for Canada.

The U.S. closed the game owning a 46-30 advantage on the glass. Its defensive pressure forced Canada into 26 turnovers and the Canadians finished the day shooting 33.9 percent (19-56 FGs) from the field, while the United States shot 44.6 (37-83 FGs).

"We have a lot of depth, athleticism and quickness," added Sampson on the strengths of his squad. "We're a good rebounding team, too. P.J. Tucker, Sean May, Curtis Withers, Hassan Adams, Charlie Villanueva, David Padgett, we've got some good rebounders. We're also athletic. We're quick enough to get our hands on some balls, get some steals and get a run going. But defense is how we're going to win this tournament, not offense."

Sampson is being assisted on the sidelines by collegiate head coaches Tom Crean of Marquette University (Wis.) and Dan Monson of the University of Minnesota.

The young American squad will scrimmage Brazil twice in Halifax on July 26 and 27, before tipping off tournament play on July 28 at the Halifax Metro Center. The U.S. will compete against seven other teams from the Americas for one of the three Americas Zone qualifying berths for the 2005 FIBA World Championships For Young Men, which will be hosted next summer by Argentina. Featuring eight nations divided into two groups of four, the competition schedule, which will be released following the July 20 tournament draw, includes a preliminary round with round-robin play between teams in each group July 28-30. The top two finishing teams in each group will advance to the July 31 semifinals and the gold medal will be contested Aug. 1. Tickets for the World Championship For Young Men Qualifying Tournament can be purchased at the Halifax Metro Center box office or by calling the Metro Center box office at bgv902-451-1221.

The World Championship For Young Men and its zone qualifying tournaments are held every four years. Originally held in 1993 and known as the FIBA 22 And Under World Championship, it was designed for men 22-years-old or younger. FIBA lowered the age eligibility to 21-years-old or younger in December 1998 and changed the competition name to the World Championship For Young Men. The USA has qualified for all three previous World Championship For Young Men tournaments and has compiled a 22-2 overall record while winning gold medals in 1993 and 2001. United States squads have also compiled a 15-2 win-loss record in the three Young Men Qualifiers, winning gold in 1996 and silver in 2000 and 1993.

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