There was no Dream Team. Heck, there weren’t any NBA players, for that matter.
It didn’t matter, because in the end, USA Basketball was once again wearing gold when it was all said and done, this time at FIBA AmeriCup 2017. Team USA trailed Argentina — on the latter’s home soil — by as many as 20 points in the third quarter. But over the course of the game’s final 16:19, the USA would outscore Argentina 48-24 to earn an 81-76 comeback win in the title game.
A team comprised of G League prospects and former professionals led by head coach Jeff Van Gundy survived the stiffest test the program has faced in recent years.
Jameel Warney, a 23-year-old G League and NBA Summer League veteran, spearheaded a second half that saw the U.S. score 54 points after netting just 27 in the first. Warney finished with 21 points and seven rebounds, while former NBA lottery pick Kendall Marshall led the team with seven assists.
“First of all, I’m very thankful to the people of Argentina for hosting such a great event. I thought the fans tonight were a tremendous home court advantage, so we are very appreciative of their passion and their respect,” Van Gundy said. “On the court, Argentina is a great team. They were beating us up pretty good. We were down 20 in the second half. But, because of great play, particularly by Jameel (Warney) … and a bunch of other guys, our defense kicked in and we were able to come up with a hard-fought win.
“We thought we had some good shots in the first half that we didn’t make. But, I was very impressed with how well Argentina played. We are a very good defensive team, and they made us look like a bad defensive team for the first 22 minutes. At halftime, all we talked about was trying to stay the course – stick with it. We got down 20, but then our defense really kicked in. We made some good plays offensively, too. We started going inside to Jameel, and Jameel delivered in a big time way.”