Witherspoon Brings Gold Medal Back To WNY
SAN ANTONIO, TX – University at Buffalo head men's basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon, serving as an assistant coach for Team USA, is bringing a gold medal home to Western New York.
Quincy Miller hit a three-pointer with 25 seconds left to help the USA beat Brazil 81-78 and take the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship at Bill Greehey Arena. This is the fifth gold medal for the United States, who also won in 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2006. For Brazil, this is their first silver medal after three bronze medals (1990, 1998 and 2006).
"I am really happy for the kids," said Witherspoon. "I know that for the most part, it's as hard as they've ever worked at in basketball. It's something that they love. You'd like to have won it in grand fashion, like we won the other games, but the fact that they had to overcome some adversity probably makes it sweeter. Everything didn't go well, but they overcame the adversity of the training camp. It's really good to see them win the gold medal. I think they have a greater appreciation of how it works now."
Kyrie Irving had 21 points, Austin Rivers – who had a USA record 35 points in the semi-final win over Canada – added 19, while Vander Blue chipped in with 13. Miller finished with 11 and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Working with head coach Jeff Capel (Oklahoma) and fellow assistant Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech), Witherspoon and the host Americans found themselves in a 67-58 hole early in the fourth quarter before rallying for the victory. Brazil led 67-58 before the USA fought back and edged in front 74-72 on Jereme Richmond's basket with 4:18 left to play.
Some accurate three-point shooting would keep Brazil in the game and the game was tied at 78 all when Neto connected from beyond the arc with 40 seconds to go. Miller answered with a long bomb of his own and Bruno Irigoyen missed a game-tying attempt.
The host nation used a 15-0 run to lead 15-2 and looked as though they would cruise to victory only for Brazil to rally and cut the deficit to 22-15 by the end of the first quarter.
And the Brazilians would keep on coming in the second period, with Lucas Nogueira making his presence felt down low as they took a 35-34 lead at the break. The USA were held to just two points in the last five minutes of the first half.
"I was really proud of our guys with how we dealt with adversity," USA head coach Jeff Capel said afterwards. "It's the first time we have experienced it here and it knocked us back a little bit early. At one point, we were down eight and we could have put our heads down but these guys hung together."
Jereme Richmond, from Waukegan, IL, commented on what is was like to play for the USA Coaching staff and if it will help in his transition to college. "Tremendously. Coach Capel, Coach Hewitt and Coach Witherspoon, they put us through a lot of things. That's the perfect transition from high school to college. I appreciate their efforts with that."