Aug. 13, 2011
SHENZHEN, China – Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.) scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds in 14 minutes of action off the bench to help lead the 2011 USA Men’s Basketball World University Games Team to a 108-67 victory in its opening game at the 2011 World University Games on Saturday, Aug. 13 at the Universiade Main Gym in Shenzhen, China.
The USA squad (1-0) fought back from a first-quarter deficit and outscored Mexico (0-1) 65-30 in the second half en route to the impressive 41-point victory.
Next up for the USA team will be a matchup against Hungary on Sunday, Aug. 14 at 3:30 p.m. (local time in China), 3:30 a.m. (EST) in the United States.
Led by 20 points and three assists from Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh/Scotch Plains, N.J.), every U.S. team member scored and grabbed at least two rebounds. Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota/ St. Paul, Minn.) recorded a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, Marcus Denmon (Missouri/Kansas City, Mo.) added 11 points and collected three steals, Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara/Seaside, Calif.) contributed 10 points and three assists and Draymond Green (Michigan State/Saginaw, Mich.) finished with 10 points.
“For the first game, I thought we had some jitters,” said USA and Purdue University head mentor Matt Painter. “We had guys who just weren’t quick to the basketball. Mexico played a little bit harder than we did. Then, once we kind of got into the flow of things, we did a little better in the second quarter. Then, obviously we picked it up in the second half.
“When they had to sub, I thought our depth really wore them out because there’s not a lot of difference when we sub. We tried to keep things balanced with the starting five, then the next five, then Ray McCallum and (Greg) Mangano, I thought both those guys did a great job of coming in and giving us some energy. I thought it was a total team effort. That’s something that’s really going to help us, especially in pool play, is using all those guys.”
Mexico put the first points on the board and led through much of the quarter. A 3-pointer from Gibbs gave the USA its only advantage in the period, 5-4 at 6:58, but the USA knotted the score twice and kept Mexico within seven points. Green converted on an old-fashioned three-point play at 31.3 seconds, and Tim Abromaitis (Notre Dame/Unionville, Conn.) cleaned up a U.S. miss with a powerful jam to pull the North Americans within two points, 24-22, at the end of the first quarter.
A made free throw from Mbakwe tied the score at 28-28 at 5:43 in the second quarter and kicked off an 8-0 run that ended with the USA up 36-28 on a steal and layup from Denmon at 3:12. Mexico scored out of a timeout to stop the onslaught, and the teams headed to the halftime locker room with the USA leading 43-37.
“At the beginning of the game we didn’t really talk too much, and that’s where we were getting caught up and they were getting easy baskets,” Johnson said. But towards late in the second quarter we started fixing that.”
The USA came out of the intermission firing on all cylinders as points from Gibbs, Johnson and Darius Miller (Kentucky/Maysville, Ky.) pushed the lead to 49-37 in the first two minutes of the third period, and the red, white and blue never let up. By the time Denmon finished with quarter with consecutive steals converted into layups at 40 seconds and 20 seconds, nine U.S. players had combined to outscore Mexico 31-16 for a 21-point lead, 74-53.
“Once we started going strong and beating the zone, in the second half, we added to the lead and were able to win the game,” Gibbs said.
While Mexico never gave up, the USA’s depth and defense helped it compile a 34-14 advantage in the fourth quarter to finish with a 108-67 win.
“I think the chemistry is there,” Mbakwe said. “We’re a very balanced team and we’re very deep, too. That’s going to help us. We have 12 guys who can play and at some point each of us could win the game for us. We’re all comfortable with each other. We’re like a family. The two weeks that we’ve had, we’ve come together and we’re all excited to play with one another.”