RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (July 26, 2007) – Watching a 14 point second quarter lead evaporate, the USA Men’s Pan American Games Team (0-2) was handed its second setback in as many nights when Panama (1-1) outlasted the American 75-67 in preliminary round action Thursday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The U.S. will look for its first win when it closes out preliminary play Friday against 2-0 Argentina in a 6:45 p.m. (EDT) game. The U.S. loss combined with Argentina’s 71-69 win over Uruguay eliminated the USA’s chance of advancing to the medal round semifinals.
In Thursday’s other action, Argentina remained unbeaten after nipping Uruguay (1-1) 71-69, Brazil (2-0) handed the U.S. Virgin Islands (0-2) a 62-57 loss, while Puerto Rico (2-0) was all over Canada (0-2) winning 98-63.
"I'm proud of our guys. I think our guys are playing hard. I think we played two very good teams," remarked USA head coach Jay Wright. "Obviously, I'm disappointed in the outcome, but not in our performance. I think they're giving us everything they've got and I'm proud of their effort. We still have to play a little bit better, we've got to execute a little bit better, we've got to play defense little bit better, but we've got to keep working on that. It's not over yet
"I thought a key part in the game was the first half when (Jose) Lloreda went out with two fouls and we had a lead and we couldn't take advantage of him being out of the game. He was out of the game and they actually came back and tied it and he made a big play at the end of the first half. I thought that really sparked them going into the second half. Then I thought (Danilo) Pinnock in the second half just got it going, we had no answer for him in the second half."
The USA had some impressive first half scoring runs and they would need them after tallying just four points in the final 8:06 of the second quarter.
The U.S. trailed 5-4 early, then ripped off 10 straight points as Drew Neitzel (Michigan State/Grand Rapid, Mich.) scored eight during the run after connecting on a pair of threes.
Owning a 21-15 lead after the first 10 minutes, the United States opened the second quarter with an 8-0 run as Neitzel started things off with a jumper, then Shan Foster (Vanderbilt University / Kenner, La.) was on target with back-to-back 3-pointers to push the U.S. advantage 29-15 with 8:06 to play before half.
But then the U.S. offense suddenly went quiet and managed just a pair of field goals the rest of the quarter. Meanwhile, Panama posted a 16-4 run that was capped by Jose Lloreda’s driving layup at the buzzer that tied the game 33-33 at halftime.
The score at halftime could have been even worse for the U.S. had Panama had any kind of touch from the foul line. Panama made just 2-of-9 free throw attempts in the period.