Aug. 25, 2005
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - The USA made it first eight shots of the afternoon and never looked back en route to a 94-72 pasting of Panama (0-1) Wednesday afternoon in the opening game of the FIBA Americas Men's World Championship Qualifying Tournament in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The 10-team tournament, which is being held Aug. 24-Sept 4, will qualify the top four finishing teams (in addition to Argentina who has already qualified by virtue of winning the 2004 Olympics) for the 2006 FIBA World Championship that is being held in Japan (Aug.19-Sept. 3, 2006).
The USA winning effort was also fueled by UCLA great Tyus Edney (Lottomatica Roma-Italy/UCLA '95), who as a starter was credited with nine points (4-5, 0-0, 1-2), a game-high six assists and two steals and rebounds, and only one turnover in 25 minutes.
The U.S., which shot 56.3 percent for the game, was led by Alex Scales' (Sansunk-Korea/Oregon '99) 18 points, Jerome Beasley (Sioux Falls-CBA/North Dakota '03) added 14 points and five rebounds, while Charlie Bell (Leche Rio-Spain/Michigan State '01) and Kris Lang (Unicaja Malaga-Spain/North Carolina '02) each finished with 11 points. Lynn Greer (Dynamo Moscow-Russia/Temple '02), tossed in nine points and Aaron McGhee (Pussan KTF-Korea/Oklahoma '02) added nine points and seven rebounds.
"The whole team was clicking and everybody was going on all cylinders. The key thing was the beginning of the game when we got it going and the second half's first five minutes," said Beasley.
The USA continues preliminary play at 1:30 p.m. (ET) Thursday facing favorite Brazil (1-0) who collected its first win after defeating Venezuela 111-84. The evening games yet to be played feature Argentina facing Mexico, while Uruguay will take on host Dominican Republic in the nightcap.
"I thought we shot the ball well, Charlie Bell helped get us off to a good start shooting then Alex Scales came in and shot the ball. Jerome (Beasley) also played great," said USA head mentor Mo McHone.
"We shot the ball finally. We got off to a really good start and I liked our togetherness and we played the way we've been trying to get them to play - to play with patience, taking good shots and crashing the boards. Everybody we put in produced and did what we wanted them to do.
"That's a very strong basketball team," offered Panama and former University of Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson. "They've got good guards, they rebound, they defend, they block shots, they're solid and that's the key to having a good team."
Making its first eight shots and hitting 12-of-15 shots overall in the first quarter, the U.S. never trailed in the game and quickly opened up a 19-7 lead with 4:26 to play in the first quarter. Panama's offense began to click and it finished the final 3:32 of the opening stanza with a 15-8 run to cut the deficit to 30-24 after one quarter.
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