Sept. 2, 2005
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (September 1, 2005-from USA Basketball) - In a dramatic fourth quarter turnaround, Charlie Bell (Leche Rio-Spain/Michigan State '01) found his shooting touch late to finish with 20 points and the USA (4-2) rallied in the game's final five minutes to steal a 91-77 victory from Uruguay (0-6) Thursday in FIBA Americas Men's World Championship Qualifying Tournament action.
The win improved the USA's record to 4-2 in second round standings and was critical for the United States' hopes of earning a qualifying berth for the 2006 World Championship and advancing to the tournament's semifinals. With one game remaining in the second round, Argentina stands alone in first with a 5-1 record. Venezuela and the U.S. are tied for second with 4-2 records, while Panama stands 3-3. Brazil, with a game against the Dominican Republic yet to be played today, is 3-2 and the Dominican Republic is 2-3. Out of contention to advance is Puerto Rico, now 2-4 and Uruguay, who is 0-6. The tournament's top four finishing teams (in addition to Argentina who has already qualified by virtue of winning the 2004 Olympics) will automatically qualify for the 2006 FIBA World Championship that is being held in Japan (Aug.19-Sept. 3, 2006).
The USA concludes second round play Friday facing Puerto Rico who lost to Panama 74-55 Thursday. In other second round play Thursday, Argentina (5-1) had no trouble in beating Venezuela (4-2) 78-60. The night finishes with the Dominican Republic (2-3) taking on Brazil (3-2).
"I thought for about a four minute stretch in the fourth quarter that's probably the best defense we've played," said USA head coach Mo McHone. "Charlie Bell finally got it going. We did make a change, we started playing side pick and roll which we hadn't done. We needed him to get going and he did a very good job. Then Lynn (Greer) came in and executed a side pick and roll for us and I thought that was huge."
The U.S. trailed 63-52 in the final seconds of the third quarter and looked like a team deep in a world of trouble when Uruguay was whistled for an offensive foul to turn the ball over to the U.S. with 13.8 seconds left. Bell's deep three at the buzzer pulled the Americans within eight, 63-55, and breathed life back to the team.
Bruin great Tyus Edney (UCLA '95), starting for the USA at point guard, played 24 minutes, with 11 points (2-8, 0-2, 7-8), three rebounds and a team-high tying three assists.
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