Croatia took the lead on a three-point play with 48 seconds on the clock and held on to hand the American U19 squad it's first loss in Latvia this morning. Team USA had it's second close game in a row in the 85-87 defeat.
James Bell started the game and played 13 minutes. He missed all four of his field goal attempts, including 0-for-3 from beyond the arc. He did grab four rebounds and had a steal during the contest, however, and his starting role appears to have less to do with his offensive arsenal than his overall contributions to the team.
The Americans were again lead by Jeremy Lamb, who scored 25 points in the contest and was joined by Patric Young (15 points) and Joe Jackson (14) in double digits.
"We didn’t come out with energy," Lamb said, "They played very well and hit a lot of shots that we weren’t contesting; we didn’t get stops when we needed them so the game was going their way. "
On the close loss, Coach Paul Hewitt said, "I think they understand. We lost to a team that played very well today. We did have a chance at the end, but we didn’t do some of the things we needed to, especially on defensive, to hold on to the win."
Despite the loss, Team USA's place in the quarterfinals as a top seed is secure with their 5-1 record so far. They will play again on Friday at an undetermined time and will have to win three games in three days in order to bring home the Gold Medal. A loss in the next round would boot the Americans from medal contention.
According to Hewitt, "I don’t think you win three games in three days relying on five or six guys. I think we’re going to need all 12 guys, even if it’s just to provide minutes from the bench or coming in the game and diving on a loose ball; helping us get a stop; making a play offensively; it’s going to take all 12 guys in order to get this done."
Friday's opponent (either Argentina, Brazil or Latvia) and game time will be announced later today.