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The Team USA U19 squad coached by Arizona’s Sean Miller must win seven games in 10 days to capture the gold at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Crete, Greece.
The American squad, which includes incoming Arizona Wildcats guard Allonzo Trier, opens preliminary play this morning, facing Iran at 7:45 a.m., Tucson time. Team USA then plays medal favorite Croatia tomorrow. After a day off Monday, Miller, Trier and Co. completes their preliminary round against Egypt on Tuesday.
Other countries have trained together and played together for longer periods than the two weeks afforded Miller and his assistants — brother Archie Miller of Dayton and Ed Cooley of Providence — to mold Team USA.
“I think the biggest thing right now is our team is improving,” Sean Miller is quoted as saying on the USA Basketball Web site. “We haven’t been together for very long, and I can’t emphasize this enough, we have a young group. The good news is I believe that our ceiling in terms of room for improvement is very high and as long as we’re consistent with our effort each day we can grow by leaps and bounds.
“I believe were a better team right now then when we showed up on day one and that’s the name of the game for us. To be the most ready for the beginning of this tournament and then hopefully continue to improve as the tournament goes.”
After arriving in Crete last Sunday, Team USA played a pair of exhibitions, besting host Greece 90-82 on Tuesday and Argentina 86-75 on Wednesday. They practiced Thursday and Friday.
Following completion of the preliminary round games, all 16 countries will advance to the Round of 16 that will start Wednesday. The winners advance to the medal-round quarterfinals Friday. The semifinals are July 4 and finals on July 5.
“Every game matters, the first three aren’t elimination games, but it positions us the very best we can be can be positioned for the gold medal game by winning all three games.” Miller said. “So our objective is to win, but I think as we go through each game and play different styles and learn more and more about ourselves; do the things we need to do to be a really good team; what I hope as we enter elimination play that again we judge ourselves by improvement; that we’re further along and a much better team then we were for example on today.”
Read on with the slideshow for notes on Team USA …
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