Aug. 22, 2011
SHENZHEN, China – The 2011 USA Men’s World University Games Basketball Team wrapped up play at the ’11 World University Games in Shenzen, China as the U.S. squad posted a 86-83 victory over Germany at Luohu, Gym to finish in fifth place. Irish forward Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.) finished with three points and four rebounds in the tournament’s final outing.
In the eight games overall, Abromaitis averaged 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds as the U.S. squad finished with the tournament’s best record and a 7-1 mark.
Behind Trevor Mbakwe’s (Minnesota/ St. Paul, Minn.) 21 points and eight rebounds, Team USA never lost its poise in the close three-point victory.
Trailing by one point at halftime, 41-40, the USA outscored its opponent 28-12 in the points-in-the-paint category and grabbed 19 boards to Germany’s 8 in the second half to help the Americans hold on for the hard-fought win that was decided in the final minutes.
Mbakwe was 7-of-9 from the field and after drawing 12 fouls from the German side, finished 7-of-9 from the charity stripe as well.
“In the second half I thought our guys did a good job of getting the ball inside and trying to establish Trevor (Mbwake) and JaMychal (Green) on the interior,” said USA and Purdue University head mentor Matt Painter. “We thought that could loosen up some things. Obviously their big guys were in foul trouble. We did a great job on the glass in the second half, and we did a great job of getting it inside to those two guys.”
Knocked from medal contention by Lithuania (6-2) in the quarterfinals, the USA responded with two wins to secure the best record in the tournament. Capturing the gold medal was Serbia (6-1) with a 68-55 win over Canada (5-2) in the tournament’s final contest.
“For these guys, their goal was to win the gold medal,” Painter continued. “Then after you stub your toe and lose in the quarters, a lot of people would kind of check out and go through the motions. These guys didn’t. You have to give them credit for coming out here and winning the fight. We didn’t come here to get fifth place, but after you get beat you just come out and do the best that you can. I’m really proud of these guys for fighting these past two games.”
John Jenkins (Vanderbilt/ Hendersonville, Tenn.) added 15 points, JaMychal Green (Alabama / Montgomery, Ala.) tallied 12 points and six rebounds and Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh/Scoth Plains, N.J.) rounded out the USA’s double-digit scorers with 11 points and three assists.
“I felt like we were playing for the gold” JaMychal Green said. “It was a rough game and we were very competitive. I take my hat off to Germany, they were a good team.” Darius Miller (Kentucky/Maysville, Ky.) and Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara/Seaside, Calif.) sank 3-pointers to help the USA open with a 6-2 lead, and the score was 12-8 in the USA’s favor when Gibbs pulled up for a jumper at 5:02. Germany responded with its largest run of the game, 9-0, and led 17-12 with two made free throws at 2:29. Scores from JaMychal Green, Abromaitis, and Scoop Jardine (Syracuse/Philadelphia, Pa.), however, helped the USA close the gap to two points, 21-19, as the first period ended.
Germany scored four quick points before Johnson answered back and Marcus Denmon (Missouri / Kansas City, Mo.) connected on a 3-pointer at 7:15 to come within one point of Germany, 25-24. The next four points from Mbakwe tied the game at 28-28 at 6:10, but the lead changed sides six times over the next six minutes, with the USA trailing by one point at halftime, 41-40.
Jenkins recorded the USA’s first five points in the third quarter as the score once again was tied at 45-45 at 8:20. Gibbs and Draymond Green (Michigan State/Saginaw, Mich.) put together a 6-0 spurt that gave the USA back the lead, 51-47, at 4:25. Four U.S. scorers, including JaMychal Green with six points, helped the USA maintain a three- to five-point lead before Germany’s Nicolai Simon was fouled on a drive at the buzzer and made both of his free throws to bring the score to 64-61 headed into the final 10 minutes.
“There’s a lot of pride with our team,” Jenkins said. “We could have easily said `we didn’t get the gold medals, so we’re just going to give up.’ We have a lot of good guys who wanted to come through and finish out strong. We were able to do that.”
Jenkins stole the ball and found Mbakwe for a fast-break dunk, which was answered by a three from Germany at 9:24 to cut the U.S. advantage to two, 66-64. Once again Mbakwe starred for the red, white and blue and tallied six points in a 9-0 U.S. run that game the USA its largest lead of the game, 75-64 at 7:06.
Germany never quit fighting, and the score was 82-74 when Painter called a timeout at 2:53. Germany’s Johanees Simon Lischka tallied seven of his game-high 28 points in the final 2:13 as the Europeans came within striking distance. The USA’s final four points came from made free throws by Mbakwe and Gibbs before Johnson was whistled for a technical foul that helped Germany make it a one possession game, 86-83, at 17 seconds with the ball back. The U.S. defense made Germany’s final shot attempt a difficult one, and its 3-point try missed the mark as the final buzzer sounded on the USA’s 86-83 win.
“It was very physical,” Gibbs said. “Germany’s a good team and you have to give them credit, they really came out strong. It was a tough battle for us, but we pulled through.”
Cuonzo Martin of the University of Tennessee and Brad Stevens of Butler University served as assistant coaches for the team.
Four players averaged double-figure scoring in the tournament, led by 13.5 points per game from Jenkins, 12.6 from JaMychal Green, 11.6 from Gibbs and 11.4 points per game from Mbakwe.
With 75 rebounds overall, (9.4 rpg.), Mbakwe now lists third in the USA Men’s all time WUGs record book and fifth in blocked shots with 13 rejections (1.6 bpg.). As a team, the U.S. team sank an event record 61 3-pointers, bettering the previous mark of 59 set in 1995.
“It’s been a great experience,” Mbakwe said. “I’m very lucky to have this opportunity for myself. Coach told always says, it’s going to springboard us into our college season. We’re going to be able to take something we learned from here and be able to use it when we get back home for our college teams. It’s just been a wonderful experience and I’m really grateful to be able to have this opportunity.”
The World University Games is a multi-sport competition open to men and women who are between the ages of 17 and 24, who currently or have been within the past year, a student at a college or university.
The USA is now 138-9 overall in the 20 WUGs in which a USA Basketball squad has competed.