At the start of the Pan American Games in Canada on Tuesday, Team USA—commanded by Head Coach Mark Few of Gonzaga, Tad Boyle of Colorado and NBA coach Mike Brown—completed its first game abroad with finesse which resulted a blowout.
After going down 41-33 to the Venezuelan national team at halftime, the U.S. regrouped behind its veteran players to pull off an incredible 52-21 run in the second half to advance to the next round, 85-62.
In a report released by USA Basketball, Few attributed the team’s first half woes to poor teamwork.
“Well it was a total tale of two halves,” Few said. “We were absolutely awful in the first half. We didn’t do anything on offense, we didn’t play together, we didn’t run anything.”
The team, which features seven collegiate players and five professional players, was led by its oldest veteran Damien Wilkins, who led the team with 21 points, and added 10 rebounds. Wilkins, 35, hails from Orlando, Florida but currently plays for Indios de Mayagüez in Puerto Rico.
Behind him, Russian professional Anthony Randolph of Pasadena, California and Chinese professional Bobby Brown of Los Angeles contributed 16 and 12 additional points of their own, respectively. On the other side of the court, University of Arizona front man Kaleb Karczewski led the defensive effort with 13 rebounds and aided the offense with eight points.
But the game wasn’t completely rocky from the start.
Team USA played closely with Venezuela for much of the first quarter, and even gained as much as a six-point lead on them with roughly two and a half minutes left in the quarter, 16-10. By the time that buzzer sounded, it was all tied up at 18.
In the second quarter, however, Venezuela rallied on a 23-15 run to gain a 41-33 lead on Few’s and Boyle’s squad at the half.
In the first half, the U.S. only made 28.1 percent of its field goals and a mere 20 percent of its three-point shots. Venezuela, on the other hand, put up a stellar offensive performance as it sunk 44.8 percent of its shots inside the arc and 40 percent from the outside.
Once the second half started, Team USA began its counterattack. The Americans made all the right plays on offense and defense as it resurrected from the hole it dug in the first half.
For the first four minutes of the third quarter, the U.S. wouldn’t allow Venezuela to get a shot off at all. Meanwhile, it managed to close the gap to a mere two points before Venezuela was able to answer.
It didn’t take long for the U.S. to run away with the game after that. By the end of the third, the score read 59-53 with the Americans on top.
The fourth quarter fared even worse for the Venezuela, whose nine points paled in comparison to the U.S.’s 26.
Next up, Team USA will take on a battered-down Puerto Rican national team, who has yet to win a game in the tournament after its 33-point loss to Brazil. The game starts at 7 p.m. MST and will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Wednesday night.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Alissa Noe at email@example.com and follow her on twitter at @crazysportgirl1.