Formosa, Argentina- Up until Friday night the United States had shown why they were one of the tournament's favorites to win the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Gold Medal. With convincing victories over Venezuela, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Canada, the US was ready for the match up with also undefeated opponent Argentina.
Argentina, another favorite and host of the FIBA Championships, jumped on the US from the tip of the ball. In the midst of a standing room crowd that far exceeded the maxium capacity of 5,000, Argentina ran out to a 20-11 lead with 3:15 left in the first quarter.
Second half play started with Team USA cutting away at the Argentinian lead. Bridging the gap to 42-36 with 6:13 to play. That however would be as close as the American's would get. Argentina ran off 11 straight points to reclaim a commanding lead at 53-36. With every US push there came an answer by Argentina, including a 75-foot prayer at the buzzer to close the third period up 59-43.
With every beat of their hearts the Americans fought play after play, but the lead was to great to over come and they would have to settle with being awarded the Silver medal. Team USA's leading scorer, and 2008 FIBA Tournament MVP Kemba Walker (UConn) stated “I think we did a pretty good job. We made it to the championship, we played as a team throughout the whole tournament. To be together 18 days, I think we did an excellent job. That team’s been together for two years and they outplayed us. But we’re going to come back next year and try to get it done.”
On a high note Malcolm Lee (John W. North H.S. / UCLA Commit.) added 13 points while Travis Releford(Bishop Miege H.S. / U of Kansas Commit.) scored 12 and JaMychal Green (St. Jude H.S. / Alabama Commit) posted a double-double with 10 points and a game-best 14 rebounds.
“I’m very proud about how we fought the entire game,” said USA and Davidson College head coach Bob McKillop. “Even the energy, the fight that we had up until the last buzzer made me very proud. Also heading up Team USA's coaching staff were Virginia Commonwealth University head coach Anthony Grant and Georgetown University head coach John Thompson III serving as assistant coaches.
The U.S. now stands at 33-2 in FIBA Americas U18 Championship play and has won four gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal in six competitions.
*Quotes & Stats:http: //www.usabasketball.com/news.php?news_page=08_mu18_game_05