USA Basketball defeats a physical Argentina team
PRAIA GRANDE, BRAZIL: June 19, 2012 – Led by the double digit scoring efforts by three United States players, USA defeated a physical Argentina team 88-71 last night. Jeremias Valencia paced the scoring for the red, white and blue with 25 points and three assists. Jonathan Valencia tossed in 16 points and led the team with six assists. Jason Coleman rounded out the scoring effort for USA with 10 points and led with eight rebounds.
While the United States ended each quarter in the lead, the United States started to lose control of the game and Argentina used that opportunity to narrow the gap in the points. USA rallied back into the game behind a suffocating defense. The United States led 21-20 after the first quarter and 43-41 at halftime.
"Argentina is a really physical team," said head coach Keith Westhoelter. "They play hard and execute very well."
"We came out flat and our minds were not mentally set for the game." said Joshua Valencia who is participating in his first international basketball competition. "I came off the bench to play hard for the name on the front of my jersey. I did contribute. I feel it is a great honor to represent our country.”
The United States opened the third quarter on a 7-2 scoring run with a pressuring man-to-man defense to put the game out of reach, leading halfway through the third quarter 66-58.
"They were a very strong physically team and they did a good job battling us", said Joe Estep, who came off the bench to score seven points and grabbed seven rebounds for the United States. "Our defensive effort was pretty good. We are playing cohesively as a team, and we know we can depend on each other."
The United States continued their defensive stranglehold and scored six straight points to command a 72-58 lead with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Foul trouble was a big issue for the United States as they committed 30 fouls.
“Argentina's 5’ 10” point guard is the best penetrator in the tournament," said Westhoelter. "We were unable to contain him as he beat several of our defenders with his first step moves."
Bruno Beros, Argentina’s 6’6” power forward led his team in scoring with 25 points. Beros plays for a professional basketball team in Argentina.
"I was very impressed with how much Argentina has improved. They were definitely a surprise," said Westhoelter. "Right now they are probably one of the top ten teams in the world".
USA will face Brazil for the final game in the preliminary round today at 7 p.m. Brazilian time (1+ EDT).