Team USA fell to host Argentina, 77-64, in the championship game at the FIBA Americas U18 tournament in Formoso, Argentina. UConn incoming freshman Kemba Walker scored 21 points in the defeat and was named the tournament Most Valuable Player.
Argentina used two big runs to secure the victory: 14-2 in the first quarter and 11-0 in the third. USA Coach Bob McKillop described the environment as hostile and credited the Argentina team with being very talented and deserving champions. He said the experience will assist the players in their upcoming college careers.
In July 2009, the U19 World Championship will be held in New Zealand and the USA will have the opportunity for redemption against Argentina and other top international teams.
The FIBA U18 Americas Championship kicks off today in Formosa, Argentina. The USA is in Group B and plays Venezuela in their first game followed by the Bahamas on Tuesday and Puerto Rico on Wednesday. Duke recruit Mason Plumlee is on the roster and will gain valuable experience over the next week. The tournament's official website is here.
This USA Basketball article is an interesting and slightly funny account of the team's travel to South America for the tournament. The Asheville Citizen-Times has two articles posted on Mason Plumlee here and here. The Memphis Commercial Appeal has an article posted on UNC commit Leslie McDonald.
This Mike DeCourcy article is over a week old but it is a nice read about point guard Kemba Walker who will be the floor general for Coach McKillop. If the USA is going to challenge for the Gold, Walker is going to have to put in a strong performance.
Blue Devil Nation will keep you updated with links to all the action from Formosa so check back and follow the progress of Team USA.
USA 82 - Venezuela 73: Box Score and game summary.
USA 115 - Bahamas 51: Box Score and game summary.
USA 106 - Puerto Rico 64: Box Score and game summary.
USA 82 - Canada 66: Box Score and game summary.
Argentina 77 - USA 64: Box Score and game summary.