July 6, 2009
AUCKLAND, New Zealand--Forward Howard Thompkins (Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.) scored a game best 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting to power the USA Men's U19 Team (4-0) to an inspired 85-69 victory over Greece (2-2) Monday night in FIBA U19 World Championship play in Auckland, New Zealand. Second round play continues Tuesday with the USA squaring off against Puerto Rico (4-1) in a 7:30 p.m. (Auckland local time) game.
The U.S. offensive showing, which saw 11 of 12 players score, was aided by Gordon Hayward's (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.) nine points, while Seth Curry (Duke / Charlotte, N.C.), Shelvin Mack (Butler / Lexington, Ky.), John Shurna (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.), Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.) and Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas / Jersey City, N.J.) each added eight points.
Gibbs also converted 2-4 3-pointers and registered a steal and block in 24 minutes off the bench. Through four games, Gibbs is now averaging 22.0 minutes, 11.5 points and 3.5 assists per game.
Neither team was able to establish much of a lead over the first 20 minutes. Fueled by six points from Thompkins, the U.S. led 13-9 with 5:05 in the first quarter. Greece outscored the Americans 8-1 to take a 17-14 lead with 1:50 left in the quarter, but the U.S. got an offensive rebound put back from Shurna and a pair of free throws from Curry to grab an 18-17 lead after one quarter of action.
Greece opened the second quarter with an 8-2 assault that left the scoreboard reading 25-20 in their favor. The USA countered with an 8-0 run that was again power by Thompkins' four points inside and with 6:35 remaining before half the U.S. and edged ahead 28-25. Tied 33-33 with 2:40 showing on the clock, the U.S. closed out the first half with 3-pointers from Gibbs and Shurna, and added a steal and a layup by Klay Thompson (Washington State / Ladera Ranch, Calif.) to outscore the Greek 8-2 and grab a 41-36 lead at halftime.
Going back inside to open the third quarter, Thompkins scored four of the USA's first six points and the Americans made 7-of-9 free throws during a 17-6 scoring run that saw its lead pushed to 16 points, 58-42, with 5:08 left in the quarter.
Greece wouldn't quit, however, and after assembling an 11-3 offensive effort, Greece had cut the U.S. advantage to eight, 61-53. A pair of free throws from Hayward upped the USA lead to 63-53 going into the final stanza.
Leading 71-63 with 4:20 to play, the USA victory was sealed by a 12-2 run that was capped by a Gibbs 3-pointer that propelled the USA lead to 83-64 with 1:47 left.
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