Szczerbiak, Posey lead U.S. to Goodwill gold

Saturday, July 25, 1998

BY The Associated Press

Miami's Wally Szczerbiak and Utah's Andre Miller wear their gold medals.
(AP photo)
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NEW YORK -- Wally Szczerbiak of Miami had 15 points and James Posey of Xavier added 13 to help the United States, which hadn't won a Goodwill Games basketball gold medal since the inaugural games in 1986, beat Australia 93-85 in overtime Friday night for the championship.

"It's unbelievable, to win a gold medal for the USA. It's the highlight of my life," said Szczerbiak, who grew up in suburban Long Island. "It was great to win it here in my hometown."

"It feels great," said Posey, who also had six rebounds. "It hasn't hit me yet that we won the gold, but I'm going to wear my medal to help it sink in. I'm going to wear it now, wear it to sleep, and wear it on the plane on the way home."

It was the first major international men's title for a U.S. amateur team since the 1986 world championships.

In Thursday's semifinal, Szczerbiak beats Lithunia's Darius Maskoliunas to a loose ball.
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"Coming into this we had to be the third or four pick at best because of our lack of experience," United States coach Clem Haskins of Minnesota said. "It's not easy for kids 18 to 21 to go against a team of players 22 to 35. This team came together. They all put away the I's and became a team."

Andre Miller of Utah took command down the stretch, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the final four minutes of regulation and the overtime. He tied the game with the final basket of regulation with 1:08 left, and scored the first basket of overtime, 25 seconds in. The United States never gave up that lead.

"All I could think of was that gold medal," Miller said. "I picked up my defense, they made some turnovers and missed some 3s and we were able to capitalize on it."

Elton Brand of Duke scored 15 points.

Australia was led by its veteran backcourt of Shane Heal, who had 38 points, and Andrew Gaze, who had 25. Their 3-point shooting kept Australia in front most of the way, but neither hit from beyond the arc in the final 6 1/2 minutes of regulation and overtime.

Posey grabs a loose ball in front of Lithuania's Saulius Stombergas.
(AP photo)
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Heal, who played with the Minnesota Timberwolves, finished with eight 3s, while Gaze, who led Seton Hall to the 1989 NCAA championship game, had three. The only loss for the United States came in the opening game when it blew a 19-point second-half lead to Puerto Rico. Then came a tougher-than-expected win over China in which the U.S. team took control with an impressive closing 7 1/2 minutes.

The United States finally found its shooting touch during a 31-point win over Brazil in the final preliminary game and kept it up with an 89-76 semifinal victory over Lithuania.

"Sometimes you have to take that step back to go forward," Haskins said, referring to the opening loss. "It wasn't that everybody didn't want to win that game, it was that everbody tried to win it themself. They regrouped, refocused and that's why they're wearing those gold medals."

AUSTRALIA (85) -- Ronaldson 1-4 1-2 3, MacKinnon 2-3 0-0 4, Rogers 1-3 0-0 2, Gaze 7-19 8-8 25, Heal 13-22 4-6 38, Anstey 4-7 1-2 9, Vlahov 1-4 0-0 2, Drmic 0-1 0-0 0, Maher 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 30-64 14-18 85.

USA (93) -- Szczerbiak 5-11 4-4 15, Jones 2-5 2-2 6, Brand 7-12 1-3 15, Miller 8-12 1-1 18, Glover 4-8 0-0 9, Carter 1-4 2-2 4, El-Amin 2-9 0-0 5, Posey 2-5 9-11 13, Booth 1-1 1-1 3, Lewis 2-4 0-0 4, Guyton 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 34-71 21-26 93.

Halftime_Australia 40, USA 40. 3-Point goals_Australia 11-33 (Heal 8-16, Gaze 3-13, Drmic 0-1, Ronaldson 0-1, Vlahov 0-2), USA 4-17 (Miller 1-2, Glover 1-2, El-Amin 1-4, Szczerbiak 1-5, Jones 0-1, Lewis 0-1, Carter 0-2). Fouled out_None. Rebounds_Australia 33 (Rogers 7), USA 47 (Brand 9). Assists_Australia 12 (Heal 3), USA 18 (Szczerbiak, Miller 4). Total fouls_Australia 20, USA 18. A_9,673.

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