Aug. 15, 2005
MAR DEL PLATA, ARGENTINA - Someone forgot to tell the 2005 USA U21 World Championship Team (7-1) that it was playing in the fifth place game. The U.S. young men, feeling they still had something to prove, made an early statement and dominated host Argentina (4-3) from the start for an eventual 111-85 victory on Sunday evening to close out the 2005 FIBA U21 World Championship in Mar del Plata, Argentina. J.J. Redick (Duke / Roanoke, Va.), who had 14 points in the first half that the North Americans owned 61-29, finished with a game-high 22 points to go with four assists and three steals in 22 minutes.
The gold medal game tips-off at 8:50 p.m. (EDT) and features Lithuania (6-1) and Greece (6-1), while Canada (4-4) took the bronze with a 79-74 victory over Australia (6-2). In the seventh place game Puerto Rico (4-4) closed the tournament with an 86-77 victory over Slovenia (2-6).
"I was really proud of our team because in the first half they came out and got rid of their disappointment we had from losing to Canada," said USA and Saint Joseph's University head coach Phil Martelli. "I thought the first half was as good as we could play. I was proud of them for that. In the second half I think human nature entered in and we wanted to try to get the game over rather than finishing it in style."
With the score tied 5-5, Allan Ray (Villanova / Bronx, N.Y.) tossed in a 3-pointer at 6:37 that sparked a 15-0 run, which spanned 4:02 and at the end the United States was in command 20-5 with eight of the USA's 12 players sharing the scoring effort.
"If we come out and get out to an early lead, generally we can keep that lead for the rest of the game," said Redick. "But if we allow teams to play with us at the beginning, they gain confidence with that and they usually stick with us for the rest of the game. So it's always important to get out to a good start. And it was important to take the crowd out of it right away, which is what we did tonight.
Argentina had the first three points of the second quarter, however, Rajon Rondo (Kentucky / Louisville, Ky.), who had a game-best eight assists, found Redick open for three at 8:07 and the U.S. was up 32-16. That spurred an eventual 11-1 scoring spurt, five of which came from Redick and an addition five from Atlantic Coast Conference foe Justin Gray (Wake Forest / Charlotte, N.C.), and by 6:01 the USA was up by 23 points, 40-17. Allowing just one more Argentinian field goal before halftime, the rest came at the charity stripe, the United States left the court at the midway buzzer up 61-29.
"This is like ... it's Argentina and the U.S.," said Justin Gray. "We saw the Olympic game (against Argentina) and I guess we wanted to show some payback. We wanted to represent our country well like we try to do with every team. We had a good start, we came out, had some good shots and defended them well. We felt that if we defended them and made it tough on them, it would be hard for them to score and that's what happened."
The North Americans cruised through the second half and walked away with the eventual 111-85 victory.