USA beats Germany on Iverson miracle shot
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USA co-captain Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers) had
never hit a game winning shot in his illustrious playing career until Wednesday
night when, with time about out, he dribbled across mid-court and launched a game-wining
40-foot 3-pointer to lift the USA Senior Team (2-1) to an 80-77 victory over Germany
(1-1) in front of a sold-out Kolnarena crowd numbering 18,000.
"It felt good when it left my hand, I knew it had a chance," said Iverson of his
game winner. "I tried to side step him (his defender) just to get a little bit
of space and I got a good look at the basket and fortunately it went in.
"That was my first buzzer-beater ever," added a smiling Iverson who was mobbed
by his USA teammates after making the shot.
The Iverson answer was a fitting end to a game that was tight the entire way and
one in which NBA All-Star Dirk Nowitzki almost single-handedly kept his country
within striking distance. Nowitzki finished the night with a game best 32 points
on 13-for-23 shooting overall, while adding 12 rebounds, three assists and two
In a game in which neither team was able to post more than a a six point advantage,
the fourth quarter saw the two teams stay within three points of each other the
final 10 minutes.
The U.S. entered the fourth quarter trailing 61-60 and was behind 65-63 with 8:40
to play when Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets) scored five consecutive points to
spark the Americans to a 68-65 lead with 8:00 to play.
Germany forward and former UNC player Ademola Okulaja made a three to tie the
game at 68, and with 5:40 to go, Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers) scored off a
pass from Anthony to put the US up 70-68. Germany scored the game's next four
points to move ahead 72-70 with 3:30 showing on the clock, but the USA evened
the game after Stephon Marbury (New York Knicks) came up with a critical steal
at mid-court, then found Anthony on the break for a layup with 1:57 left.
Iverson, in a preview of what was to come, swished a 3-pointer a blink before
the shot clock expired to give the US a 75-72 lead with 1:18 remaining. The suspense
continued and with 35 ticks left in the game, Nowitzki was fouled on a 3-point
attempt and the Dallas Mavericks star made two of the three free throws to close
the gap to a single point, 75-74.
Having committed just two fouls in the final quarter, Germany was forced to foul
to get into the bonus and made three quick fouls before finally sending Anthony
to the line to shoot two with 12.4 showing on the clock. Despite the roar of the
frenzied, partisan crowd, Anthony calmly made both free throws to increase the
USA lead to 77-74.
But Nowitzki had one more shot in him and pulling up at the top of the key, he
watched his 3-pointer fall cleanly through with 3.8 seconds left to tie the contest
Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs) then inbounded the ball to Iverson around the foul
line and Iverson dribbled right, took a dribble across halfcourt and launched
his first game winner.
The US offensive effort was headed by Duncan who finished with another impressive
all-around effort, scoring a US high 19 points and grabbing a team best nine rebounds.
Anthony added 16 points, and Iverson finished with 15. All12 U.S. players scored
in the contest.
"It was a great basketball game. Germany played very well and any time you have
a Dirk Nowitzki on an opposing team you have a very tough opponent," stated U.S.
mentor Larry Brown.
"I think our players really got a lot out of these two games (against Italy on
Aug. 3 and Germany Aug. 4). We made a lot of improvement from the game last night,
but we have a long, long way to go. I think playing the last two nights is hopefully
going to help us as this trip goes along."
The United States will return to the court Friday night in a game against 2002
World Champion Serbia and Montenegro in Belgrade. Friday night's game will be
televised by ESPN at 7 p.m. (EDT).
The USA senior men opened their training on July 26 at the University of North
Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., and are pending the 20 days leading up to the start
of the 2004 Athens Olympic basketball competition training in Jacksonville; Cologne;
Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro; and Istanbul, Turkey, and will play a total of
six exhibition games.
Following the game in Belgrade, the USA Senior National Team will conclude its
tour in Istanbul, Turkey. Facing Turkey on Sunday, Aug. 8 in an ABC live nationally
televised game (2 p.m. EDT), ESPN will show the Aug. 10 (1 p.m. EDT), USA-Turkey
The 2004 Olympic men's basketball competition takes place Aug. 15-28 in Athens.
The United States men, the three-time defending Olympic champions, will compete
in Group B with Angola, Australia, Greece, Lithuania and Puerto Rico. The other
men's preliminary round group, Group A, consists of Argentina, China, Italy, New
Zealand, Serbia & Montenegro and Spain.
The USA men open preliminary play in the 2004 Olympics on Sunday, Aug. 15 against
Puerto Rico (8 p.m., all times are local time), then will play host Greece on
Tuesday, Aug. 17 (10:15 p.m.), Australia on Thursday, Aug. 19 (2:30 p.m.), Lithuania
on Saturday, Aug. 21 (8 p.m.), and the U.S. concludes its preliminary play facing
Angola on Monday, Aug. 23 (2:30 p.m.). Quarterfinals play is slated for Thursday,
Aug. 26, with semifinals action being held on Friday, Aug. 27 and the final games
to determine first through eight places are slated to be played on Saturday, Aug.
Brown, who has won a gold medal as a player at the 1964 Olympics and as an assistant
coach at the 2000 Olympics, and who most recently led the Detroit Pistons to the
2004 NBA title, is head coach of the 2004 USA Basketball Men's Senior National
Team and will draw on his recent international head coaching experiences that
saw him lead USA teams in 1999 and 2003 to 10-0 records and Olympic qualifying
berths. Assisting Brown on the USA bench is San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg
Popovich, who owns a pair of NBA championships (1999 and 2003), and a pair of
very successful collegiate head mentors in Clemson University's (S.C.) Oliver
Purnell and University of North Carolina's Roy Williams.
The U.S. men, gold medalists in 12 of the 14 Olympics in which it has participated,
own a remarkable 109-2 win-loss record in Olympic play for a .982 winning percentage.
USA Olympic teams featuring NBA players are 24-0 since making their first appearance
at the 1992 Olympics and the U.S. has won the last three Olympic titles when NBA
players have participated (1992, 1996, 2000).
A record almost as impressive as the USA's success in the Olympics is the one
enjoyed by USA Basketball Men's Senior National teams comprised of NBA players.
Since first fielding in 1992 a team of legendary NBA stars, USA Basketball Men's
Senior National Teams have competed in eight international basketball competitions
and compiled a stellar 69-3 record. Between 1992 and six games into the 2002 World
Championship the USA seniors won a remarkable 58 straight games. The win streak
came to a halt at the 2002 World Championship when the U.S. fell 87-80 to Argentina
(Sept. 4, 2002). The U.S. seniors currently own a 11-game win streak after finishing
10-0 to win gold at the 2003 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament.