ELEVENTH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP -- 1990
Aires, Argentina |
August 8-19, l990
Despite falling short in its quest to defend the World Championship gold medal that the USA had earned in 1986, the 1990 USA squad demonstrated resiliency and a never say die attitude en route to capturing the bronze in Buenos Aries, Argentina.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski's 12-member USA team, a young and internationally inexperienced team that averaged just 20-years old, finished the World Championship in possession of a 6-2 overall record and the bronze medal. It was the American's determination to win that will be most remembered. In five of eight games the USA team trailed with under two minutes to play and on three occasions the U.S. somehow managed to rally and claim a win.
The USA completed its pool play boasting a perfect 3-0 record after defeating Greece (in overtime), South Korea and Spain.
Opening quarterfinal action with a late night game versus host Argentina, despite a raucous, partisan, capacity crowd, the U.S. started quickly and by half led 58-42. The U.S. managed to hold off a second half Argentinean surge to record the 104-100 win as guard Kenny Anderson led the U.S. with 32 points. Facing an experienced Australian team, the U.S. lost its leading scorer Billy Owens to a back injury just 55 seconds into the game. Trailing 78-74 with 1:52 left, a Todd Day hoop and free throw pulled the U.S. within one, 78-77, and a Lee Mayberry steal and short jumper with 1:13 to go gave the U.S. the lead and the 79-78 win.
Meeting also unbeaten and 5-0 Puerto Rico, the U.S. trailed 48-45 at half. Regrouping, the U.S. with 7:32 remaining led 73-68, but Puerto Rico staged its own rally and with 1:24 to play led 77-76. Adding a critical three-pointer then another basket, Puerto Rico held on to earn an 81-79 win.
Facing Yugoslavia for the right to advance to the gold medal game, the favored Yugoslavian team featured five future NBA players and proved too much for the U.S. collegians, 99-91. Despite a stellar showing by the USA's Alonzo Mourning, 26 points and 11 rebounds while holding 7'0" L.A. Laker Vlade Divac to seven points and four rebounds, the U.S. had no answer for NBA soon-to-be-star Drazen Petrovic's 31 points (6-10 3-pt FGs) or Toni Kukoc's 19 points and nine assists.
Unwilling to return home without a medal, the U.S. persevered and earned a 107-105 overtime win against Puerto Rico. Trailing 96-88 with 1:28 to play in regulation, the U.S. cut the gap to 96-94, Puerto Rico threw the ball away with six seconds remaining and Anderson forced overtime when he made two free throws with no time on the clock. During overtime, the U.S. grabbed a 103-98 lead and went on to claim a 107-105 win and the bronze medal. Yugoslavia earned the gold by virtue of its 92-75 win over the USSR.