Irving helps lead USA to Gold

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In a game that went down to the wire, the USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team (5-0) fought back to defeat Brazil (4-1) 81-78 and claim the FIBA Americas U18 Championship gold medal on Wednesday night at Bill Greehey Arena in San Antonio, Texas. Earlier in the night Canada (3-2) defeated Argentina (2-3) 86-83 in overtime to earn the bronze medal, Canada’s second bronze at the U18s.

Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the United States qualified for the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship, which will be held in Latvia.

Tonight marked the fifth (1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010) U18 gold medal for the USA, the last coming in 2006. Argentina beat USA in 2008, in the tournament held in Formosa, Argentina.With the win, the U.S. upped its overall record to 38-2 at this event, and has also won five gold medals, one silver medal (2008) and one bronze medal (2002) at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. It also marked the best finish for Brazil, which has captured three bronze medals at the U18 tournament.

“I was really proud of our guys with how we dealt with adversity,” said USA and University of Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel. “It’s the first time we have experienced it here and it knocked us back a little bit early. I thought we did a good job of getting off to a good start in the second half. Give them credit, that Brazil team they have been together and fought and they made plays. At one point, we were down eight and we could have put our heads down but these guys hung together. They showed some toughness, they showed some grit and we started to get some stops on the defensive end and some guys made some great plays offensively. Quincy hit a huge shot, he has shooter’s amnesia because the time before he took the shot and it was an air-ball. He has a lot of confidence in himself and really stepped up and made a huge shot for us.”

Brazil led 63-58 going into the fourth period. The North Americans went on a 16-5 scoring run and led 76-72 with 3:55 remaining. But Brazil was not finished, as Felipe Taddei hit a 3-pointer, as the team closed to 76-75. The USA’s Pat Young (Providence School / Jacksonville, Fla.) hit two free throws at 2:51, and the American squad led 78-75. With a tick over 40 seconds on the clock, Brazil’s Raul Neto tied the score at 78-78 with a 3-point bucket. The finale came with 25 seconds to go, as Quincy Miller (Quality Education Academy / Winston-Salem, N.C.) fired up a 3-pointer, which turned out to be the game-winner.

“Well, coach just told me to shoot it, even though my last one was an air ball,” said Miller. “Coach told me to shoot it, so I shot it. I had faith in myself and I made it.”

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