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Guards' Golden Touch Lead USA Young Men To Gold Medal

SAITAMA, Japan (August 12, 2001) USA guards Troy Bell (Boston College /
Minneapolis, Minn.) and Chris Duhon (Duke / Slidell, La.) combined to make
11 3-point shots and scored 43 points as the USA rallied in the second half
to earn an 89-80 victory over Croatia (4-4) to claim the gold medal at the
2001 World Championship For Young Men Sunday in Saitama, Japan. The gold
medal finish was the USA's second in the FIBA event's three time history.
The USA won gold at the inaugural World Championship For Young Men in 1993
and finished fifth in 1997.

Bell made a USA single game record six 3-pointers on nine attempts and
finished with a team best 24 points, while Duhon made five-of-12 3-pointers
(the 12
ttempts also set a USA game mark), and was credited with 19 points and a
USA game record 14 assists.

"We very seldom beat these teams in international basketball with the
3-point shot. Today we beat them with the 3-point shot," said USA and
Syracuse University (N.Y.) head coach Jim Boeheim. "They were the first
team that really put us in a hole. They played extremely well and played
an almost perfect first half and the key was those three threes at the end
of the first half. If we hadn't made those threes we would have been down
14 of 15 and it would have been very, very difficult to come back.

"Troy Bell really stepped up today. He kept us in there in the first half
with the threes, then he made a couple of big ones to start off the second
half. He had an exceptional game. Our guards were really just
unbelievable and they had to be," added Boeheim.

The United States trailed for most of the first quarter as cold shooting
for the first time in the tournament plagued the U.S. The game was tied
22-22 with 1:28 to play in the opening period and Croatia closed the
quarter with the final four points to take a 26-22 lead.

Croatia opened a 45-33 lead with 2:32 remaining before half and was on the
verge of blowing the game wide open. However, the U.S. guards stepped up
and Duhon sank a three, then Bell made two more, and the U.S. had closed
the gap to 47-42 at halftime. In the first two quarters, the U.S. shot
just 37.9 percent (11-29 FGs), while Croatia was hitting 56.3 percent
(18-32 FGs) from the floor, including five-of-10 from 3-point.

Opening the third quarter with the same intensity they closed the second
period with, the USA behind five points from Bell and four more from Nick
Collison (Kansas / Iowa Falls, Iowa) went on a 9-0 run to regain the lead
51-47 with 6:43 to play in the third. With its defense limiting Croatia to
20.0 percent (4-20 FGs) shooting in the period while the USA scorched the
nets making 10-of-13 attempts (76.9 percent), when Bell drained a 3-pointer
at the buzzer from just inside half court, the USA had taken control 69-59.

Opening a 12-point advantage early in the fourth quarter following a pair
of baskets by Caron Butler (Connecticut / Racine, Wis.), Croatia rallied to
score nine consecutive points to pull within three, 73-70 with 5:50 to play.

With the USA lead down to a point, 80-79, Duhon took charge. Connecting on
a three with 2:05 to play that pushed the USA ahead 84-80, Duhon got the
rebound on the other end and made two free throws to give the USA an 85-79
lead with 1:29 to play. On the next possession he was fouled and again
converted on both free throws to up the lead to 89-80 and seal the victory.

"I kind of just rocked my guy to sleep and got into a good rhythm and just
let it fly and once it left my hands I knew it was going in," stated Duhon
on his back-breaking 3-pointer.

While Bell and Duhon spearheaded the USA offense, they were not alone.
Butler finished with 15 points, four rebounds and three steals, Collison
added 15 points and four boards, and Boozer finished with six points and a
team high 11 rebounds.

"Caron (Butler) told me and Chris later in the game that we need to take
over and do a little more because we're use to sitting back and trying to
get it inside," said Bell. "I was just out their doing what I could. I
got some good looks so I just shot them. Chris gave me some nice passes
and I couldn't ask for much more."

In the bronze medal game, Argentina (5-3) battled to hold off Dominican
Republic (4-4) 87-82 to take home a third place finish and the bronze
medal. In Sunday's other finals play, Spain (6-2) won its sixth game after
handing Slovenia (4-4) a 79-65 setback to finish fifth, while Israel
(5-3) ended a three game losing streak and defeated Australia (4-4) 80-77
to finish seventh.

"On this trip the two assistants, Phil Martelli and Ernie Kent, were
unbelievable," said Boeheim. "They did a great job defensively, getting
our team to know what they had to do. They scouted every team and got us
prepared for what we were going to see every night and as a result our
defense was outstanding, we made big defensive plays the whole tournament
really because of the job those two guys did. They were outstanding.

"We've had guys step up every game. That's been a nicest thing about this
team," continued the USA mentor. "We played eight or nine guys, 12 guys in
most games, and everybody has contributed. It's been the best team effort
I've seen in my six or seven years working with USA Basketball in terms of
a team playing together, hanging together."

Held every four years and originally designed for men 22-years-old or
younger, FIBA lowered the age eligibility to 21-years-old or younger in
Dec. 1998 and changed the competition name to the World Championship For
Young Men. The U.S. captured gold in the inaugural competition which was
held in 1993 in Spain and known as the FIBA 22 And Under World
Championship, and in 1997 in Melbourne, Australia, finished fifth with a
6-2 record.

Additional USA Quotes


On what he said at halftime:

"We had to do a better job at contesting the 3-point shot. I told the
players that they made four almost impossible shots in the first half and
that if they were going to beat us they were going to have to make four
more in the second half and they didn't. I thought we could tire them out
a little bit and try to keep running the ball at them. We were very, very
fortunate to be within five. I would have been happy at one point to be
within 10 at halftime, to get within five that was incredible . I give
this team a lot of credit, they've done what they've had to do.

"Nick Collison has really been in foul trouble every game so he hasn't got
to show what he can do. Even tonight he was having a great game but he
only played 21 minutes. But he was a big key. When their big guy got his
fourth foul we went inside three or four times for easy layups.

"Carlos expended a lot of energy yesterday and really went all out. But he
rebounded for us and he was very good defensively for us. He made a big
steal against their best player that was an almost unbelievable steal.


On the 3-pointed he made at the third quarter buzzer:

"Yeah it was pretty far, I had a good look. I just wanted to try and set
my feet and get a good shot up."

On the whole experience:

"Representing the U.S., getting to meet all the guys, the coaching staff,
it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of work, it hasn't really sunk in but
when I get home and I see all my family and friends and they let me know
how big it was, but as of now it hasn't sunk in."


"We have one of those teams that the scoring can come from any where so you
just have to keep the other things going like defense and rebounding and I
wanted to help the team by stopping them and getting rebounds. Troy and
Chris were having great offensive games today and we all contributed."

"This feels great. We started this back some 21 days ago, we worked hard,
we did two-a-days in two different cities and came out here as group and
came togther and all the hard work paid off and it's a great feeling.
It's been a remarkable year, you won the NCAA, now this:

"Yeah, it's been great. I've been able to win a Final Four and winning a
gold medal is a great accomplishment and I'm looking forward to doing it


About telling Troy Bell and Chris Duhon they need to take over:

"I just felt that they could take their man off the dribble every time and
with me, Carlos and Reggie or Nick offensive rebounding every time in case
the shot doesn't go in, I said that they needed to take the chance and
they did. They were knocking down shots, big shots."

On the third quarter strong start:
"It was very crucial, we needed to step it up and take the confidence from

On winning the gold
"It hasn't sunk in yet, I'm still enjoying it right now and glad to be
here. Winning the gold is wonderful."


You were a member of last year's team that won a silver medal, does that
make the gold all the more meaningful?

"Yeah because I know it's not very fun to win the silver, it's a good
effort, but you come here to win the gold and its disappointing if you
don't do it, so this has been a lot of fun this year. I can go home now
with the gold, I'm very happy about it."


"I just tried to come into the game and bring a little bit of energy and I
think that was what we needed at the time I went into the game. I tried to
go in and rebound and lock up my man. That's the most I could do, I just
tried to contribute the best I could."
You were a member of last year's team that won a silver medal, does that
make the gold all the more meaningful?

"Yeah it makes it a lot better. We feel like we should have two golds, but
coming here and winning this, it's bigger than last year so this makes it
an awful lot sweeter."

"This means a lot. We came here and played some very good teams that have
been together a long time. We came down here to representing the USA, we
tried to win every game and we did that and I'm very proud of everybody.
We all came together, for being around each other for just 21 days I think
we played really well."


"This feels great, it kind of like winning a national championship. This
team worked hard and we played hard every minute of every game and I think
that's what helped us today. They had us on the ropes but we had it in our
minds that we were going to be gold medalists and we weren't settling for
anything else. So we came back and battled. It feels great, it's a great
accomplishment. We represented our country well."

"They were trying to collapse on our inside guys and every time our big
men touched it they had two or three people running at them and it was
really hard to get them involved today except on the break. Troy and I
stepped up and hit some big shots. Especially Troy. We were down late in
the second quarter and they had a double digit lead and Troy hit two huge
threes that gave us some momentum to go into halftime with and we took that
momentum and carried it through the second half.

"Our guard play today was what helped us. Usually we attack from the
inside and Croatia did a great job of not letting us penetrate and not
letting our big men get a lot of touches. I think the guards took it upon
themselves and knocked down big shot and made big plays down the stretch.
This was just a great team effort.

On his play in the final minutes:

"I felt as captain of the team we we're going to win or lose through me. I
was willing to make whatever plays necessary for us to win. Thank god I
made the right plays and it just gave that little cushion that we needed
for us to be victorious.

On his last three-pointer that gave the U.S. an 84-80 lead:
"They were doing a great job of getting over the screens and helping to
where I couldn't throw it inside or penetrate. I kind of just rocked my guy
to sleep and got into a good rhythm and just let it fly and once it left my
hands I knew it was going in."

Differences between the international game and the NCAA:
"It's more physical. They let you use your hands a little bit more, its
kind of like a NBA game. All the guards are much bigger, it's tough having
to play post defense which is something us guards back in the USA aren't
use to it. Everybody can shoot the ball, the top five players on the
opposing team can all shoot the three and that another big difference. It
was great experience and I've had a great time.


"We did a good job and the guards did carry the load the way they were
shooting today. The front line had to do whatever it took, whatever they
gave us we had to take advantage of, we had do the little things in order
to win.

What does winning the gold medal mean to you?
It's something different for me, it feels real good. I'm going to take
advantage of it and try to carry this on into our (Iowa's) season. But it
feels real good. It was a lot of hard work, there were ups and downs, but
in the ends it turned out great."

Does winning the gold make all the work worth it?
"Definitely. It was along trip and it was very tiring, but to play here
and take home the gold medal means a lot."
Different players seem to contribute each night making this a true team

"No one got mad or jealous or worried about playing time, guys just kind of
played as one throughout."


It was a lot of work but winning the gold makes it worth it?

"Definitely, Chris and Troy were out there today doing their thing,
everyone on the bench was clapping and cheering. Everybody came together
as one team, it didn't matter who was in the game everyone was enjoying it.
Everybody is not going to play well every night, somebody always stepped
up for this team. Everybody on this team could start so we had guys coming
in off the bench that could score 10-12 points,

What are feeling now that you have the gold medal?

"I don't know, it hasn't sunk in yet."

"This feels great, this is my first time being in another country and Japan
is very unique. I'm just glad we pulled the gold medal out."
Each night someone else seemed to contribute:

"Yeah, we all had great games and it showed in the end and helped us win
the gold medal.

It was a lot of work, does winning the gold make it worth it?

"It was a lot work, and then there's the time away from home, so it really
made it worth while and I'm just glad we got the gold medal.

Will you show your medal off when you get home?

"Yeah, I can show the medal off and tell them I had a great experience in