Team USA Is Golden

Team USA has claimed another gold medal in international basketball competition with an 88-80 win against Greece in the FIBA under-19 world championship tournament Sunday in Auckland, New Zealand.

It's the first one since 1991 in this event for the U.S., which was guided by Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, and it wasn't easy. Team USA held a 46-30 halftime advantage, but had to withstand a furious rally by the Greeks.

In its semifinal against Croatia, which incidentally took home the bronze by knocking off Australia, the Americans couldn't get a good second-half start. Greece secured a 21-14 advantage in the third, primarily thanks to seven missed free throws by the U.S.

However, a spectacular alley-oop finish from Arnett Moultrie capped a 5-0 USA run in the first 74 seconds of the final period to extend the lead to 14, and although Greece challenged on numerous occasions and closed to eight points with 7:51 to play, Team USA was able to hold off the surge.

When Klay Thompson and Ashton Gibbs, a sophomore guard at Pitt, hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the lead was 73-61, and the gold medal was secured.

Leading scorers for the USA were Tyshawn Taylor (18 points, 6 assists, 5 steals), Gibbs (13 points), Thompson (10 points, 3 blocks) and Moultrie (10 points, 9 rebounds).

For Greece, Kostas Sloukas (17 points, 4 assists, 4 steals), Nikolaos Pappas (16 points), Leonidas Kaselakis (15 points, 6 rebounds) and Kostas Papanikolaou (12 points, 5 rebounds) all tried gallantly.

It is the USA's fourth triumph at the FIBA U19 World Championship, while for Greece, the silver medal joins the gold it won in 1995 in Athens, and the bronze in Thessaloniki in 2003.

The USA and Greece were joined on the podium by bronze medallist Croatia. Tournament MVP Mario Delas scored 24 of his 28 points after halftime, as his team held off a desperate Australia, 87-81.

Delas scored 9 points in the gripping last quarter, including a big offensive rebound and two free throws with 1:11 remaining when Australia had drawn even, 79-79, after trailing by as much as 9 points.

Australian captain Matthew Dellavedova (14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals) was almost the hero for his team, but his fifth and final foul with scores tied and just over a minute to play was a key moment.

Delas (28 points, 12/15 fg, 5 rebounds) received outstanding support from Toni Prostran (21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) and Tomislav Zubcic (16 points, 6 rebounds).

For Australia, Cody Ellis was outstanding defensively and finished with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks. Mitchell Young (15 points, 6 rebounds), Ryan Broekhoff (11 points, 7 rebounds) and Brock Motum (10 points, 5 rebounds) were also strong contributors.

In the day's first game, Canada proved too good for France, taking 7th position with a 82-74 win.

Mangisto Arop (16 points, 7/12 fg) and Cory Joseph (18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) again led Canada, who used an 11-4 run to begin the third quarter, and a 15-7 streak at the start of the last period to create their final 8-point margin.

For France, which claimed 8th position in the tournament with a 3-6 record, Nicolas Lang (19 points, 5/10 3pfg), Alexis Tanghe (16 points) and Christophe Leonard (15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) led the scoring.

Argentina celebrated 5th place enthusiastically with its supporters, after extending an 11-point half time lead to defeat Puerto Rico, 92-70.

Argentina was led by Andres Landoni (17 points), Juan Fernandez (12 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists), Mateo Gaynor (14 points) and Luciano Gonzalez (12). The South Americans finish the tournament with a 5-4 record.

Puerto Rico's best were again Jio Fontan (19 points, 6 assists) and Mike Rosario (21 points), as their team finished the tournament in 6th place with 5 wins and 4 losses.

The tournament returns in 2011.

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