Aug. 7, 2005
MAR DEL PLATA, ARGENTINA - The 2005 USA U21 World Championship Team (3-0) defeated Puerto Rico (1-2) 94-79 in the third night of action at the 2005 FIBA U21 World Championship on Sunday night in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Allan Ray (Villanova) shot a perfect 5-of-5 from beyond the arc and finished with a team-high 20 points to lead the way.
Following a day off, the USA resumes play against Nigeria (1-2) on Aug. 9 at 3:00 p.m. (EDT), before closing out preliminary round play against Slovenia (2-1) on Aug. 10 at 12:45 p.m. (EDT).
"We anticipated that it would be a physical and mental challenge because Puerto Rico keeps on coming," said USA and Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli. "They don't overreact to a score or a deficit. So the early lead for us, in some ways, was like fools gold because we probably got fooled ourselves. Saying that, I thought it was a good opportunity to understand what it feels like to play with a semi-hostile crowd and play three games in three days. I thought we were physically and mentally tired. We were not as sharp as we have been and we obviously have to address that because next weekend is the medal round."
Opening the game on a 16-4 tear, the U.S. seemed to be unstoppable and by the end of the first quarter the USA's lead was 31-14. During the first 10 minutes of play, the North Americans went 10-of-20 from the floor and 6-of-9 from 3-point, receiving 12 points from Allan; while Puerto Rico was limited to 5-of-20 and 0-of-6 from afar.
In what would become a game of spurts, Puerto Rico stabbed back in the second quarter. At the 7:48 mark, Puerto Rico's 7-3 centerPeter Ramos, who plays for the NBA Washington Wizards, collected his third foul and went to the bench, whileCurtis Withers (Charlotte) knocked down both free throws to push the squad's lead to 36-18. But with Ramos on the bench and Puerto Rico playing with a smaller, quicker lineup that thrived on the fast-break and speedy offense, the islanders outscored the U.S. 11-2 to pull back under double digits, 38-29, with 5:11 to play in the half. The teams swapped buckets during the ensuing minutes andMardy Collins (Temple) hit a layup with 45 seconds to go to put the U.S. up 50-39 at halftime.
Scoring the first five points of the second half, Puerto Rico pulled the reins back, 50-44 at 9:21. See-sawing on equal runs, first 8-0 by each team and then 7-0 by each, with 12:03 to play in the game the USA's lead was still six points, 65-59. On the USA's next possession Collins shot a jumper over Ramos from the charity stripe to spark a 6-2 U.S. run that closed out the quarter with the North Americans up 71-61.
The USA's defense picked up the pressure and intensity, holding Puerto Rico to just seven points in the first 6:34 of the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, on the other end the re-energized defense sparked an offense that saw five different players score and opened up the game 87-68. By the time Puerto Rico found the basket again, a 3-pointer by Angel Vassalloat 3:26, it was too late as the United States remained ahead by no less than 15 points and took the win.