July 18, 2007 >> Novi Sad, Serbia - Behind 18 points and five steals from Jonny Flynn (Niagara Falls H.S. / Niagara Falls, N.Y.), the 2007 USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team (6-0) handed tournament favorite France (4-2) its second loss in as many nights, after earning an 87-82 victory 2007 FIBA U19 World Championship on Wednesday night in Novi Sad, Serbia.
Also helping in the well-rounded attack were Michael Beasley (Notre Dame Prep, Mass./ Frederick, Md.), who scored 17 points and eight rebounds, Patrick Beverley (Arkansas / Chicago, Ill.) notched 15 points and four steals and Raymar Morgan (Michigan State / Canton, Ohio) chipped in 10 points.
The U.S. advances to the medal quarterfinals as the No. 1 seed in Group E and will take on Argentina (3-3), Group F’s No. 4 seed, on July 20 (7:30 a.m. EDT). The semifinals are slated to be played July 21 and the gold medal will be contested on July 22.
"Again we were really helped by a guy that hadn’t really played much," said USA and DePaul University head coach Jerry Wainwright. "Donté Greene (Towson Catholic H.S. / Baltimore, Md.) came off the bench and gave us major minutes. He was really prepared to play, he was a difference maker for us tonight. Our guards have really kept us in the game. Michael Beasley is starting to play a little more solid, Raymar Morgan is starting to come around and I don’t know if there’s a better defensive player in this tournament than David Lighty (Ohio State / Cleveland, Ohio). We’re trying to go from game to game and find the right combination. I know we stumbled a little bit at the end. I think we got a little bit tired and they came after us, we got a little bit loose with the ball. But I thought that for a spurt we played as good a game of basketball that we’ve played all tournament. Hopefully we can carry that over to the medal round."
It was a battle royale for much of the first half and with 2:58 to play in the first half the United States found itself on the bottom end of a 32-26 score. Receiving points from four different players, including six from Flynn, the U.S. fought back with a 13-1 run to gain a 39-33 lead with 10.2 seconds remaining before the half. With time winding down, France’s Adrian Moerman started to drive to the basket, was fouled with less than a second on the clock. After making both tries, the USA’s lead stood at 39-35 at the half.
"Of course they came out tough, you never want to lose two games in a row" said Flynn. "I don’t care what kind of tournament it is. Especially a great team like that. You don’t want to lose two games in a row. From the jump they had a different swagger. They were more hungry, more aggressive tonight than we’ve ever seen them play. That picked up our level of intensity and we seemed to match it and it was a good game."
The second half opened with three lead changes and a pair of tied scores and at 7:38 France held their final lead of the night, 46-44. Beverley drilled a three to jump-start a 10-3 U.S. run that included a pair of steals and by 4:06 in the third, the USA was up 54-49. The red, white and blue continued to pull away and with 10 minutes remaining in the contest it was a 10-point, 53-43, ball game.
Four different players scored as the U.S. reeled off 11 consecutive points to go up early in the fourth quarter 74-53. The Americans lost some of their defensive intensity as France chipped away at the gap and with 1:43 to play in the game the USA’s lead dwindled to eight points, 84-76. But the U.S. was determined to put the win in the books and closed the game with the victory.
"France is a real good team," added Flynn. "We had the mind-set coming in that we were playing one of the best, if not the best team in the tournament. Coach Wainwright (told) us getting off the plane here about newspaper articles back home saying that we’d be lucky to win this, France is the favorite to win the tournament and things like that. So coming into this game we were real hyped."
In other Group E second round play Brazil, (3-3) defeated China (1-5) 89-77 and Serbia (5-1) beat Lithuania (2-4) 89-76. In Group F, South Korea (2-4) picked up its second win of the tournament with a surprise 104-96 win over Turkey (3-3), Australia (6-0) remained undefeated after nipping Spain (4-2) 86-84 and Canada (3-3) beat Argentina (3-3) 87-82.
Wainwright, who served as an assistant for the 2006 USA U18 National Team, is heading up the 2007 USA U19 World Championship Team coaching staff, and collegiate head coaches Bruiser Flint of Drexel University (Pa.) and George Washington University’s (D.C.) Karl Hobbs are serving as assistant coaches.