USA 85 Croatia 87
Perhaps still basking in the glow of their win over Team Lituania yesterday, Team USA started slowly against the Croatians this morning in their sixth game of the FIBA U19 World Championships. Trailing by as much as 11 through the first three periods, the American put on a furious rally to retake the lead, 76-75, on a Doug Mc Dermott three point shot with just under four minutes to play. Over the next 1:15 Team USA pushed their advantage out to four points, 82-78, the last points coming on a Jeremy Lamb jumper, but the Croatians rallied one last time, using a 5-0 run to retake the lead on a Toni Katic runner with 0:48 83-82, and then hung on to take the win. Team Croatia upset Team Lithuania in the opening game of Preliminary Round One, this game appears to be the bookend for their preliminary round games. The Croatians logged a 4-2 record through the two preliminary round robin phases, tieing them with Lithuania, but by virtue of that opening win over Lithuania, Croatia takes the #2 seed (F2) into the Medal Rounds. Jeremy Lamb led all scorers with 25 points on 9-20 (0-3, 9-17) shooting from the floor and 7-10 from the line. Two other Americans, Patric Young (15 points) and Joe Jackson (14 points) also scored more than 10 points. Patric Young and Croatia's Dario Saric each grabbed eight rebounds. The Croatians were paced by point guard Toni Katic's 21 points scored by 8-10 shooting from the floor and 5-8 from the line. Centers Boris Barac (18 points) and Dario Saric (17 points) chipped in double digit points for the Croatian effort.
Mulling over the game boxscore to develop some possession-based stats for the game...
Team USA offense was not over powering as it has been in several of the previous five games, but it was the defense that did not hold when the Americans retook the lead with less than four minutes to go. The Croatians' 9-3 run in the last 3:30 came on 3-6 shooting from the floor and 5-7 from the line.
Other Group F Play Today
Team Egypt exited group play with another double digit loss, but it was the win, over China in Group D play that they will remember fondly as they finish out in the #9-#12 classification rounds to be played Friday and Saturday. Heading off to the classification rounds with Egypt will be Team Canada, which finished group play with a 2-4 record complements of a 21 point loss to Team Serbia today. Group F standings...
Villanova's wing James Bell started his sixth consecutive tournament game and logged 13 minutes of play, mostly rotating in for defense. Bell shot 0-4 (0-3, 0-1), scoring no points. He grabbed 4 rebounds (all defensive boards) and dished an assist.
Who's Got Next?
Who Team USA faces next will depend on the results from Group E play today. The Americans can see either Argentina (should the Argentines lose to Brazil today) or Russia (Argentina beats Brazil and Russia beats Latvia), either of whom will secure the E4 seed later today. The game with Croatia should serve notice to the Americans however, that from here on in, every game can be the last game.