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USA U21 Men Stung by Canada 93-90 in Overtime

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Fighting from behind much of the game, the 2005 USA U21 World Championship Team (5-1) was outplayed by Canada (3-3) 93-90 in overtime of the 2005 FIBA U21 World Championship quarterfinals on Friday evening in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The loss, which saw Allan Ray (Villanova / Bronx, N.Y.) finish as the team's top scorer with 16 points, relegates the United States to the consolation round and the best it can finish is in fifth place. The USA will face Puerto Rico (3-3) Aug. 13 at 1:15 p.m. (all times EDT).

The USA's was the first medal quarterfinals game of the day. Greece (5-1) earned its trip to the medal semis by virtue of an 88-63 victory over Puerto Rico; while Australia (5-0) and Slovenia (2-3) tip-off at 5:45 p.m. and the day's final quarterfinals game will feature Lithuania (4-1) against host Argentina (3-2) at 8:00 p.m. In classification play, Israel (2-4) downed China (0-6) 95-74.

"They played really good," said Allen. "They were 47 percent from the field, they had one guy go off on us for 40 points. He shot 70 percent from the field and when someone gets hot like that, it's hard to stop him. Once he got it going, he got some big confidence from his teammates, they got confidence in him and they went out and played hard. They played harder than us. "We're definitely going to have to come out and win these next games. Even though it's not the gold that we wanted, but we need to come back, have pride in USA Basketball and win our next two games."

"I thought Canada was outstanding," said USA and Saint Joseph's University head coach Phil Martelli. "Obviously the young man (Levon Kendall) had 40 points, but their whole team was outstanding. The biggest thing that will be underrated was their defense. Their defense was exceptional, and they certainly had a magnificent effort from everybody on the team."

With the United States up 82-78 and less than a minute to play, University of Pittsburgh's (Pa.) 6-9 forward Levon Kendall scored in the lane to close to 82-80. The U.S. was unable to convert on the other end and Canada came up with the board, got it to Kendall, who tied it with 29.9 seconds left to play. Canada's defense forced the U.S. to run out the 24-second shot clock without getting off an attempt, but Canada wasn't able to get the ball up the court in the final seconds and overtime was forced.

Canada struck first in the extra period and Taj Gray (Oklahoma / Wichita, Kan.) evened it up with a pair from the stripe at 4:13. Kendall scored at 3:50 to give Canada an 86-84 lead, one it would keep for the rest of the game. The ball went back and forth before Rajon Rondo (Kentucky / Louisville, Ky.) was sent to the line at 2:49, but sunk just the second attempt. Canada got its final field goal of the game at 2:24 from UNC-Wilmington's 6-10 center Vlad Kuljanin to make it 88-85.

After a pair of turnovers, the ball was back in the USA's hands but Marcus Williams' (Connecticut / Los Angeles, Calif.) 3-point attempt bounced around the rim, wouldn't go in and Canada recovered the board. Heading inside again, Kendall was fouled by Curtis Withers (Charlotte / Charlotte, N.C.), his fifth of the game, and nailed both attempts with 58 tics remaining. On the USA's next trip up the court a 3-point attempt failed. Rondo grabbed the rebound and started to drive, but turned it over to the Canadians.

The United States was forced to foul to stop the clock and Canada got another two points from the line, upping the score to 92-85 with 44 seconds to go.

The United States missed a pair of 3-pointers, both of which were recovered by Rudy Gay (Connecticut / Baltimore, Md.) and finally, with 28 seconds to go, Justin Gray's (Wake Forest / Charlotte, N.C.) three found the bottom of the net. The USA fouled Canada again, but this time Majak Kou's shots both missed. Ray turned it over on the other end, but Canada's inbounds heave sailed the length of the court, giving the USA another chance with 12.8 seconds to go.

Getting it to Rondo quickly, he put up the USA's final points with 10.9 seconds to go (92-90). However, after sending Tristan Blackwood to the stripe, a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer by Justin Gray missed its mark and the U.S. closed the game on the wrong end of the 93-90 score.

"I have to give Canada a lot of credit," said J.J. Redick (Duke / Roanoke, Va.). "They had a sustained effort for 45 minutes. We wavered in our effort and that was the difference in the game. They played harder than us, they played with a sense of urgency throughout."

The U.S. got off to a rocky start, missing its first five shots and also giving up the ball once as Canada went up 4-0 in the first 1:17. Ray got the squad on the board at 7:53 and at 5:06 the U.S. was up 11-10. The USA was never able to get into a rhythm and at the end of the first period Canada was on top 27-23.

Coming back to the court for the second quarter, the USA got five points from Taj Gray in a 7-0 run and took a 30-27 lead. However, Canada returned the fire and with 1:36 to play in the half the score was knotted at 41-all. Kendall scored four points to close out the half with his side on top 46-41.

The United States clawed its way back in the third and tied the game 58-58 on a Redick steal and Rondo layin at 2:14. That sparked a 6-0 Rondo run that included a Gay block and with 1:36 Canada called a time out to halt the USA's momentum. Outscoring the USA 5-2 after that, the third quarter closed with the U.S. owning a 64-63 edge.

The battle continued in the fourth and every time the red, white and blue made a run, Canada was there to fight back and forced overtime for the eventual win.

"With this team, like J.J. said, it was a matter of maximum effort against sporadic effort," said Martelli. "Maximum effort should always win and it did today. I think that to me, it was a matter of really an all-out, wonderful effort, particularly by their point guards. I don't think there's anything wrong. You go over the numbers and you see 47 rebounds to 35 and that says a lot about a team."

The U.S. finished with six players who scored in double digits. In addition to Allan's 16, Redick scored 14, Justin Gray and Taj Gray had 13 each, Rondo tossed in 12 and Gay chipped in 10 points. Rondo also picked off four steals and passed off four assists, while Gay notched a double-double after grabbing 10 rebounds.

Canada's Kendall poured in 40 points on 16-of-22 shooting from the field and Kuljanin was Canada's next top scorer with 12 points.

The United States was outrebounded 47-35, but turned over the ball just 11 times compared to Canada's 22. Shooting just 37.8 percent from the field (31-82 FGs), the U.S. watched Canada make 47.3 percent (35-74 FGs).

Acting as Martelli's assistants are collegiate head coaches Dennis Felton from the University of Georgia and James ‘Bruiser' Flint from Drexel University (Pa.).

 

 

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