Can the 2011 version of the USA Men’s Basketball team bring back its first Pan American Games’ gold medal since way back in 1983?
With a roster chalked full of hungry and talented D-Leaguers suiting up this go around obviously that will be the ultimate goal.
It’s been some 28 years since the United States Men’s Basketball program last secured that elusive gold medal.
In that time Brazil has dominated the event winning the Pan American Games top honor an amazing four times (1987, 1999, 2003, 2007) – the Pan American Games are held every four years preceding the year the Olympics occur.
Although Brazil has clearly taken center stage in terms of gold over the last three decades in this International Tournament, overall the United States still leads in top finishes securing a total of eight gold medals since the Pan American games inaugural year in 1951.
To give you an idea of the USA Men’s impressive success early on; before 1983 the Men’s team had taken home gold eight out of the first nine tries (1951-1967, 1975-1983) only missing out on the ultimate crown in 1971 (Brazil).
But no pressure (extreme sarcasm) in trying to match an ’83 USA squad that featured the likes of future pros Michael Jordan, Mark Price, Chris Mullin, Wayman Tisdale and Sam Perkins.
A team that went an impressive 8-0 in competitive play and extended the United States win streak to 28 games.
This year’s United States Men’s roster will feature a full slate of D-League representatives. Over the last 60 years since the first Pan American games were held back in 1951 the U.S. has predominately sent collegiate stars and members of the former Continental Basketball Association to compete in the event.
Head Coached by Nate Tibbets of the D-League’s Tulsa 66ers, the 2011 USA Men’s Basketball team is a nice mix of athletic and skilled D-League talent.
Blake Ahearn of the Erie Bayhawks will be instructed to run point and navigate the treacherous competitive waters that this team is sure to face when games begin to be played out this coming Wednesday, October 26th from Guadalajara, Mexico.
Ahearn put in 14.7 points and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 38.9% from three-point territory during the 2010-11 D-League season.
Texas Legends scoring-guard Justin Dentmon (19.1 ppg, 1.4 spg, 42.9% 3-pt), Tulsa 66ers all-everything guard Jerome Dyson (15.5 ppg, 1.57 spg), Reno Bighorns versatile combo-guard Donald Sloan (10.7 ppg, 4.4 apg) and Iowa Energy’s marksmen Moses Ehambe (46.3% 3-pt led D-League) round out team USA’s backcourt.
Up front Team USA runs with small forward Renaldo Major (15.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.35 spg, 51.3% fg) of the Dakota Wizards, Curtis Sumpter, Tulsa’s Marcus Lewis (7.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Austin Toros forwards Leo Lyons (14.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 39.2% 3-pt) and Lance Thomas (12.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg), big man Brian Butch and 6-11 center Gregory Stiemsma.
The United States begins competitive play this coming Wednesday when they face the Dominican Republic at 5:30 pm. The prelims will continue Thursday against Brazil, the 2007 Pan American Games Gold Medal winners, at 8 pm.
Friday it will be Uruguay scheduled for a 5:30 pm tip off and if Team USA is fortunate enough to finish in the top two of their group they will advance to the Semifinal round set to begin Saturday, October 29th with the Finals to be held the following day at 1 pm.
Being that the back-to-back game schedule, lengthy travel distance and International competition all stand at providing tremendous obstacles for this 2011 USA Men’s squad, a gold medal would be quite the accomplishment for the U.S. and its first in 28 long years.
After a mediocre 3-2 record in 2007 and a fifth place finish surely this team of bright-eyed D-Leaguers is looking to make a name for itself as well as United States Basketball as a whole in this historic International event.
Full roster linked courtesy of USABasketball.com.
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© 2011 Jarrod Gillis — All Rights Reserved