SAITAMA, Japan (August 8, 2001) Â Connecticut forward Caron Butler (Racine,
Wis.) scored eight of his game high 21 points during a USA 22-0 third
quarter scoring spree as the United States remained undefeated and improved
to 5-0 after handing previously unbeaten Israel (4-1) a decisive 98-73 loss
Wednesday night at the World Championship For Young Men in Saitama, Japan.
The win secured the No. 1 seed in Group B for the Americans, who now move
on to medal round quarterfinals and play Slovenia (3-2), the Group A No. 4
seed, on Friday at 8:20 p.m. (Tokyo local time).
"The game was a game of runs. We made a good run in the first half after
they got off to a good start, then at the end of the first half they came
out and caught us. At the start of the second half we played as well as
you can ask a team to play for seven or eight minutes. Then they came back
again and when we had to we made the last run," said USA and Syracuse
University (N.Y.) mentor Jim Boeheim.
Owning a one-point lead at halftime, the USA held Israel scoreless for the
first 6:18 of the third quarter while posting 22 unanswered points to take
command 74-51 with 2:54 left in the quarter. Butler started the USA
onslaught with the first eight points of the third quarter and Troy Bell
(Boston College / Minneapolis. Minn.) capped the run with the last five
points as the USA lead reached 23 points.
Israel countered with its own mini-run and scored the third quarter's final
11 points to trail 74-62 heading into the fourth quarter. Israel was not
finished yet and following a basket by Ori Ichaki with 6:46 to play in the
contest, Israel had rallied back within eight, 78-70.
The USA went on a final game deciding run and scored 13 straight points to
regain control 91-70. The game winning rally started when Nick Collison
(Kansas / Iowa Falls, Iowa) scored on an offensive rebound, then forward
Carlos Boozer (Duke / Juneau, Alaska) scored back-to-back baskets as Duke
teammate Chris Duhon (Slidell, La.) found him loose inside both times.
"Carlos and I know how to play together because we play together at Duke.
He knows when I penetrate that if he gets into a little open area that I'm
going to get him the ball," said Duhon.
Israel started the game quickly and moved out to a 13-5 advantage with the
game just four minutes old. Brian Cook (Illinois / Lincoln, Ill.) came in
off the bench and sparked the struggling USA offense to life and tallied
seven points as the U.S. closed the gap to 16-15.
Israel held a 29-26 lead at the end of the first quarter but the U.S.
opened the second period with a 14-4 run that was capped by a 3-pointer
from Bell and the Americans took control 40-33. Following back-to-back
baskets from Butler, the U.S. lead reached 11 points, 52-41, with 2:28 left
before half. However, Israel blanked the U.S. 10-0 over the second
quarter's final 2:28 to reduce the U.S. lead to one, 52-51, at halftime.
While Butler led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, he also
added five rebounds and three steals. Boozer finished with his second
consecutive double-double, recording 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting and
adding 11 rebounds, and Jameer Nelson (St. Joseph's Chester, Pa.) was the
only other American to score in double figures with 10 points. Duhon had a
game best eight assists to go with seven points.
"You've got to come out and hit them where it hurts and at halftime I felt
that they couldn't get back in transition with us," stated Butler. "So
when we came out in the third quarter I pushed myself to get out in the
open lanes and to hit the boards because they weren't boxing out well and
good things happened."
The U.S. shot 48.8 percent (39-80 FGs) from the field, outrebounded Israel
49 to 44, and committed only nine turnovers. The U.S. forced Israel into
13 turnovers, the USA defense limited Israel to 37.7 percent (26-69 FGs)
shooting overall, and just 6-20 shooting from behind the 3-point line.
In Wednesday's other final preliminary round games, in Group B, Argentina
(3-2) earned the No. 3 seed in Group B after whipping South Korea (0-5)
98-74, and Croatia (2-3) defeated host Japan (1-4) 105-77 to capture the
No. 4 seed for Group B. In an upset in Group A, Dominican Republic (3-2)
defeated European champ Slovenia (3-2) 84-81 to earn the No. 3 seed in
Group A, Spain (4-1) secured the Group A No. 1 seed after pounding Egypt
(1-4) 116-45, and Australia claimed the No. 2 seed after easily disposing
of Qatar (0-5) 90-68.
Following a day off Thursday, all 12 teams return to court on Aug. 10 for
quarterfinals play. The medal round quarterfinals match-ups feature Group
A No. 1 seed Spain facing Group B No. 4 seed Croatia; Group A No. 2 seed
Australia meeting Group B No. 3 seed Argentina; Group B No. 1 seed USA will
take on Group A No. 4 seed Slovenia, while Group B No. 2 seed Israel will
play Group A No. 3 seed Dominican Republic. Winners of the quarterfinals
round games keep their medal hopes alive and advance to the medal
semifinals action on Aug. 11, while quarterfinals losers will meet in
semifinals play to determine fifth through eighth places. The gold and
bronze medal games, as well as final round games to determine fifth through
eighth places will be contested on Sunday, Aug. 12.
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
Additional USA Quotes
HEAD COACH JIM BOEHEIM
"We've played very well in these first five games, but everybody is now
0-0. You look at the teams left, Slovenia won their zone (European Zone)
last year, you look at the other teams in the other bracket, Spain and
Australia are very strong teams. It's really a wide open tournament.
Whoever plays well for three days is going to win , it could be any one of
those teams or somebody else."
"We started a little slowly defensively and we really struggled early.
When we made the change (substitutions) we kind of picked it up a little
but. When we started the second half we played well offensively but it was
more our defense creating fastbreak opportunities and if we can continue to
play defense to that level we'll be a factor the rest of the way."
"We were pushing it all day, getting in as far as we could and they were
helping a lot so it gave us a lot of opportunities to our big men for us
guards to dish it off and let them finish. When they cut it to eight I
think we relaxed because we had a big lead and we stopped attacking them.
I made it a point to start attacking them and they started opening up and
we started to get easy baskets."
"Everybody is going to make runs, we just did a better job of answering
their runs and making even bigger runs then they made. I credit that to
our defense, I think our defense played well. When they made their runs we
didn't give up, we just locked up a little harder and made the plays we had
"I just came in and tried to be active, tried to get on the offensive board
and just put the ball in the hole. The guys gave me nice passes down low
to finish and I went in just looking to get the job done."
"We just kept on grinding it out when they had the lead and everything fell
into place. We went on runs, they went on runs, in the end we went on the
bigger run and our defense helped us do that. We converted from the
defensive end into baskets."
"I got my confidence yesterday against Japan and told the fellas to be
looking for me because I was going to run ."
"It was tough, but the key to all games is defense. Even if you don't
knock shots down with as much talent as we have on this team eventually
shots are going to fall, but the key to the game was defense."
"Israel came out with a lot of energy and took it at us. We had to get
going and we had some players step up and make big plays. We got our
defense going and came back slowly. In the second half we came out with
more defensive intensity and got the game rolling and got the lead and took
over from there."
"I think the more we play together the more we get comfortable and use to
how each other play. I think the more games we play the better defense
we're going to play and the better we're going to play on offense."
"Chris and I played all year together and he reads the defense and I kind
of play off him, sometime we connect, sometimes other players connect with
him . It's good to have a player like him because you can expect the same
thing from him every night."