USA men's basketball dominates in victory over Canada
By Chris Kaftan
PRARIA GRANDE, BRAZIL: 15 June 2012 – Riding on a stingy defense and a high-octane offense, the USA men’s basketball team defeated Canada 105-25 in the opening game for both countries in the Pan American Games in Brazil.
Featuring a team that does not feature well-known players from previous international competitions, this version did not disappoint as coach Keith Westhoelter’s trademark “defense first” philosophy came out strong.
USA came out scoring with a fast-paced offense and a defense that features triple-towers in the paint, leading from the opening buzzer over the Canucks. In three out of four quarters of action, USA prevented Canada from scoring in double digits.
“The mindset of the team was defense first, and our offense will take care of itself,” said Westhoelter. “I was very pleased with our defense in this game.”
Led by an overpowering man-to-man scheme, USA held Canada scoreless for nearly nine minutes of the second quarter, only allowing one field goal. USA went into halftime with a 55-12 lead.
“We had a very good start tonight,” said forward Orion Palmer (Riverside, Calif.). “The spirit was there and we had the heart to play.”
Palmer, along with Bradley Miller (San Diego, Calif.) and Steve Valencia-Biskupiak (Riverside, Calif.), all measure over 6’6”, giving the United States an imposing height advantage in the paint that five other countries who will be competing against the United States will not have. Valencia-Biskupiak led all USA scorers with 18 points.
“This was our first international game together as a team,” said forward Jason Coleman (Riverside, Calif.). “Our chemistry got better throughout the game from the start to the end.”
Added Palmer: “Coach really inspired us tonight with his intensity and his insistence on making sure we play defense.”
“Defense wins games,” said Coleman.
Six of the 11 players on the USA roster scored in double digits. Jeremias Valencia (Riverside, Calif.) contributed with 14 points, including two straight three’s. Newcomer Wally Reyes (Walnut, Calif.) had 13 points, Coleman scored 10, Palmer chipped in 11 and Miller had 12 points.
“Everyone contributed,” said Westhoelter. “We will carry this momentum from today to our game against Mexico tomorrow.”
USA will face off against Mexico at 5pm Brazilian time on Saturday, June 16.