RECIFE, Brazil (AP)
USA Basketball didn’t head home from AmeriCup empty-handed.
Gary Clark scored 18 points, and the U.S. rallied in the final minutes to top Canada 84-80 in the bronze-medal game on Sunday.
The Americans went on a 26-10 run over a 7-minute stretch of the final quarter, turning what was a 63-56 deficit into an 82-73 lead.
”I’m happy for our guys,” U.S. coach Alex Jensen said. ”It was an honor to be a part of it.”
It was the ninth time in 11 appearances at AmeriCup – the championship of the FIBA Americas region – that the U.S. captured a medal. The Americans have won gold seven times, silver once and now have a bronze.
Canada was seeking a seventh medal in 19 appearances at the event.
Jodie Meeks – an NBA champion who spent 10 years in the league with seven teams – scored what may have been his final three points as a competitive player during that late run by the U.S. Meeks’ only points on the day came when he got fouled on a 3-point try and made all three of the free throws with 3:31 left, pulling the U.S. into a 71-71 tie.
Meeks is planning to retire and begin a coaching career. His teammates sent him out with a medal, and Clark’s layup with 1:43 left put the Americans on top for good.
”It’s definitely been an experience for our guys,” Clark said. ”The weather’s nice. I think most guys were upset that they couldn’t get in the ocean because of sharks … but we’ve enjoyed our time here.”
Abu Kigab scored 18 points for Canada, while Kadre Gray and Jahvon Henry-Blair had 15 apiece.
Zylan Cheatham scored 16 for the U.S., while Craig Sword added 11 and Norris Cole led the team with eight assists.
Going home medalists, even though it wasn’t a higher-profile event like the Olympics or World Cup, wasn’t insignificant to the group of G League and internationally based players that the U.S. assembled for this trip.
”From Day 1, I felt it,” Jensen said. ”You’re part of a special group.”
Later Sunday, Gabriel Deck’s layup with 16.1 seconds left lifted Argentina past Brazil 75-73 in the gold-medal game.
Deck scored 20 points, Nicolas Laprovittola added 15 and Facundo Campazzo had 13 for Argentina. Vitor Benite led Brazil with 18 points, while Marcelinho Huertas and Yago Santos each scored 11.
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