Venezuela defeats USA for Pan American Gold

edited by Chris Kaftan When it came to the time that mattered most, Venezuela made the plays in the final moments to win the 2012 Pan American Games gold in men's basketball, defeating the United States, 84-82, in the final.  With that victory, Venezuela exacted revenge on the United States, who defeated them 76-67 in the preliminary rounds.  Miguel Blanco led Venezuela with 29 points while veteran Luis Romero did the damage inside the paint with 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds over a tall USA team. Venezuela jumped to take a first quarter lead, 27-17.   USA rallied to cut the deficit by scoring 29-18 in the second quarter taking a point lead at half-time with 46-45. With an intense battle, USA maintained to control the third quarter leading 63-61.   In the fourth quarter, Venezuela regained their momentum to take a lead 68-62 with eight minutes left. With less than 55 seconds left, USA was down 82-74.  Steve Valencia-Biskupiak was fouled and made a pair of free-throw to trim the deficit, 82-76. Following a Venezuela timeout, the USA returned to the court with more sense of urgency to put a full court press.  Both teams scored a quick basket on the transition.   Raymond Nelson stole the ball and put in a layup to bring the U.S. within four with 15 seconds left.  Jonathan Valencia stole the ball and was fouled.  He made a pair of free throws with seven seconds left.   But Venezuela called a timeout again and fought back to protect their final possession as the clock expired. “I thought it was a competitive game.  Venezuela played extremely hard and they just keep fighting us, kept fighting us and they made the plays in the down the stretch,” said Head Coach Keith Westhoelter.  ”We missed a lot of offense opportunity such as dunk, layups and second shots." In the second half, Venezuela used full court man to man defense that wore the USA guards down. Valencia-Biskupiak led the USA team in both scoring and rebounding with 26 points and 14 rebounds.  He also had four blocked shots.  Jonathan Valencia scored 19 points and had three steals.  Orion Palmer accounted for 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds.  Nelson contributed with nine points and had four steals. “When you look at the bench and court, you look at the players we have, it’s just big disappointing losing this gold medal like this”, said Valencia-Biskupiak.  “We missed a lot of easy baskets, layups, and free-throws." Jeremias Valencia said, “We simply beat ourselves!” Congratulations to Venezuela
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