After picking up wins over Venezuela and Puerto Rico, the United States Pan-American Games team faced its stiffest test Thursday night as they took on Brazil. The Brazilians are a veteran group that plays well together, and that was certainly the case as they beat the Americans 93-83 in Toronto.
Vitor Benite proved near impossible for the United States to stop, as the 6-foot-2 guard tallied 34 points on 10-for-17 shooting, which included 8-for-11 from beyond the arc. Benite also grabbed seven rebounds, and as a team Brazil shot 53 percent from the field and 15-for-26 from three. That was too much to overcome for the United States, which made just six of its seventeen three-point attempts.
Keith Langford led the way offensively for the U.S. with 17 points, making all eight of his shots from the foul line, with Bobby Brown (16 points), Taurean Prince (16) and Anthony Randolph (15) also reaching double figures. But the caliber of looks the team was able to find was an issue, as they finished with a total of five assists to go along with ten turnovers.
By comparison, Brazil finished the night with 16 assists, with three players having three apiece, to 12 turnovers.
While the United States will advance to the semifinals of the event, the loss means that their road to a possible gold medal gets tougher. Next up for Few’s team is host Canada, which won all three of its games in group play. Three players who will play college basketball next season are on Jay Triano’s team: Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, Kentucky’s Jamal Murray and Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer.
Brazil will take on the Dominican Republic in the Friday’s other semifinal.
With the basketball competition at the Pan-American Games scheduled to begin July 21, the eight participating teams are beginning to announce their 12-member rosters for the event. Wednesday afternoon the Dominican Republic revealed its roster, and two current college players made the cut and will compete for a medal in Toronto.
Seton Hall forward Angel Delgado and USF guard Nehemias Morillo are among the 12 players on the roster, with both looking to use the event as a springboard into the 2015-16 season.
Delgado was the Big East’s best freshman a season ago, as he won the conference’s Rookie of the Year award after averaging 9.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest. Delgado and fellow sophomores Isaiah Whitehead and Khadeen Carrington will be asked to lead the way for the Pirates, who add grad student Derrick Gordon to the rotation after losing Sterling Gibbs (now a grad student at UConn).
As for Morillo, he’s coming off of a junior season in which he averaged 10.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Including Morillo, USF will return its top four scorers from a season ago with Corey Allen Jr. and Chris Perry both having their seasons shortened due to injury.
The Dominican Republic is competing in Group A in Toronto, with hosts Canada, Argentina and Mexico being the other teams in the group. They’ll open up with Canada, whose roster hasn’t been announced as of yet, July 21. Among the players trying out for Canada’s Pan-Am Games squad are current collegians Dillon Brooks (Oregon), Jamal Murray (Kentucky) and Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga).
Sunday afternoon USA Basketball revealed the 12 players who will represent the country at this month’s Pan-American Games in Toronto, with the team being a mix of current collegians and professional players. Among those who survived the cut from 16 to 12 were Maryland point guard Melo Trimble and Wichita State shooting guard Ron Baker, who will be two of the top players in the country at their respective positions this coming college season.
Joining Trimble and Baker as collegians on the roster are Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon, University of Louisiana forward Shawn Long, Baylor forward Taurean Prince, Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski and Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine. That group will be joined by five players who are currently playing at the professional level overseas or in the NBA in guard Bobby Brown, center Ryan Hollins, guard Keith Langford, forward Anthony Randolph and guard Damien Wilkins.
Serving as head coach is Gonzaga’s Mark Few, with Colorado head coach Tad Boyle and former NBA head coach Mike Brown being his assistants.
“It’s a group of hard-working guys who have done a great job in camp of really playing together and being unselfish,” Few said in the release. “They came into camp with a great attitude and mindset to really work, and now we’ve got to start formulating and playing to our strengths. This is a group that’s got some versatility, and I think we should be able to play a couple different ways.”
Beginning Monday the team will train at the Chicago Bulls’ practice facility until the 16th, heading north of the border following that for games that begin Tuesday, July 21. In group play (Group B) the United States will play games against Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Brazil, with the top two teams in each group advancing into the semifinals.
The four teams in Group A are hosts Canada (which will suit up a team that includes Anthony Bennett and Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray), Argentina, Dominican Republic and Mexico.