Aug. 31, 2005
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - Behind double figure scoring from six players, including a team-high 20 points from Charlie Bell (Leche Rio-Spain/Michigan State '01), the USA survived a first quarter storm from host Dominican Republic (2-2) and rallied to post a 111-86 win Tuesday night to earn its most impressive win thus far of the FIBA Americas Men's World Championship Qualifying Tournament. The win improved the Americans record to 3-1 and moved them into a tie for first. Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and the U.S. are now tied atop of the second round standings.
Team USA had six players score in double figures, including UCLA great Tyus Edney (UCLA '95). Starting at point guard, Edney played 24 minutes and was 5-7 from the field, 0-0 from three-point range and 5-5 from the foul line, with two rebounds and four assists.
The USA continues second round play Wednesday facing Argentina (3-1), who was upset 89-84 by Panama (1-3) in the day's first game. In Tuesday's other second round play, Brazil (3-1) overcame a two-point halftime deficit to take an 89-69 decision over Uruguay (0-4), and Venezuela (3-1) held off Puerto Rico (1-3) for an 82-73 victory.
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).
"We couldn't play any better than that," admitted USA head coach Mo McHone. "They came out smoking, they were making everything. The thing we talked about all day was we had to outrebound them because this team has been outrebounding its opponents by a huge margin and we had to keep them off the free throw line. They had shot 34 more free throws than their opponents going into tonight's game.
"We got it going and when you get it going it seemed like everybody we put in did a really did a good job. We did a good job of getting the ball inside and our big guys played very good. I was really proud of our defense tonight."
Playing in front of a raucous, energized crowd, the Dominicans started red hot. Sprinting out to a 7-0 lead with just 80 seconds gone in the game, they led 22-12 with 4:59 to play in the first quarter after hitting nine of its first 12 shots, including all four from beyond the 3-point arc. The U.S. hung in and despite the Dominican Republic making 14-of-21 shots in the first quarter, the USA trailed 33-23.
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