Team USA’s dream of going back-to-back as FIBA AmeriCup champions is no more. On Saturday evening, the Americans were eliminated in the semifinals after an 82-73 loss to Argentina. Now, the Americans will face the loser of Brazil vs. Canada in the bronze medal game on Sunday.
Argentina jumped in front at the end of the first quarter, and threatened to pull away multiple times throughout the game. Team USA always had a response, however, and even managed to briefly grab the lead in the middle of the fourth quarter on a Norris Cole layup that made it 66-65. It looked like we would be in for an exciting finish, but instead the Argentines dominated from that point on, closing the game on a 17-7 run.
Gabriel Deck led the way for Argentina, pouring in 30 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He shot 9 of 13 from the field and also worked his way to the line with relentless intensity, making 12 of his 13 foul shots. Nicolas Laprovittola added 18 points for Argentina, while Facundo Campazzo chipped in 10 points and seven assists.
Cole led a balanced American attack with 18 points, while Zylan Cheatham added 10 of his own. Those two were the only double-digit scorers for Team USA, but all 12 players had at least two points. The major reason for the loss was an inability to take care of the ball; the Americans turned it over 17 times, which is a lot for a 48-minute game let alone a 40-minute contest.
Though at first glance this might seem like an upset, it’s worth noting this is one of the weaker Team USA rosters in recent memory. Now that regional competitions such as AmeriCup are no longer part of the qualifying process for the FIBA World Cup or the Olympics, there’s no incentive for the best American players to participate. This squad was made up of primarily young G League players, with the likes of Cole and Jodie Meeks providing some veteran presence.