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Surprise: United States falls to Brazil in final Pan-Am Games group match

Surprise: United States falls to Brazil in final Pan-Am Games group match

Posted by PanamericanWorld on July 24, 2015

Brazil beat the United States, 93-83, Thursday night in Toronto to finish atop Pool A at the 2015 Pan American Games.   

So far in the men's basketball tournament, Team USA had yet to get burned by the fact a handful of college players helped comprise the roster. The lack of experience from those players at a senior international level didn't hurt in wins over Puerto Rico and Venezuela, but it was a major detriment against Brazil.

The United States was playing from behind for most of the game, which is the exact opposite situation head coach Mark Few will have wanted while relying on amateur stars to provide meaningful minutes off the bench.

Before the game, Team USA guard Denzel Valentine, who currently attends Michigan State, acknowledged how difficult this game would be.

"We just have to come out and be the tougher team," Valentine said early Thursday morning, per MLive.com's Kyle Austin. "Brazil, they are a well-run team. They are going to run their offense and wait for you to make your mistakes. We just have to stay disciplined and play our type of basketball."

Early on, it became apparent the United States simply couldn't cope with the Brazilians' impressive ball movement. As a team, Brazil picked up 16 assists compared to five for Team USA. Brazil's offensive efficiency is also evident in its shooting percentage (53 percent).

No Brazilian shooter was hotter than Vitor Benite. The 25-year-old had one of the best performances of the entire tournament, going 10-of-17 from the field, including 8-of-11 from deep, for 34 points. Will Kunkel of KWCH 12 in Wichita, Kansas, figured it was just one of those unlucky games for the United States:

Augusto Lima also proved to be a handful inside. The Brazilian forward finished with 14 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes on the floor. Former Gonzaga star J.P. Batista chipped in 13 points as well to the winning effort.

Wallace mentioned only one United States player making more than one three-pointer, and that player was Anthony Randolph, which came as a shock to C.J. Fogler:

Randolph was one of three Team USA members to score in double figures, missing just one of his seven field-goal attempts and winding up with 15 points.

Keith Langford led the way for the United States with 17 points, while Bobby Brown and Taurean Prince were right behind him with 16 points apiece.

Malcolm Delaney, who plays professionally for Lokomotiv Kuban, believed Damien Wilkins shouldered some of the burden for the United States' lackluster showing:

Wilkins' numbers weren't impressive (4 PTS, 1-6 FG, 4 REB), but you can't pin the blame on any one player. Team USA was simply the second-best team on the night.

Brazil quickly took a 24-17 lead after the first quarter. Team USA closed the gap to three points, 27-24, in the second quarter, but the Brazilians righted the ship and owned a nine-point edge, 47-38, at the half.

Any hopes of an American comeback were quickly dashed in the third quarter. Roughly four minutes into the second half, Brazil's lead ballooned to 16. A three-pointer from Benite with 40 seconds remaining in the quarter put his team ahead by 18 points, 75-57, with 10 minutes to play.

A 10-1 run in the fourth quarter breathed life into Team USA as it was staring at a nine-point deficit, 82-73, with a little under four minutes to play. A turnover from the United States stopped its momentum dead.

Team USA wasn't out of it completely. A three-point shot from Brown with 46 seconds left could've made it a four-point game. But his attempt missed, and Benite all but sealed the victory with a three immediately at the other end.

In a way, Brazil might actually be in a tougher spot since it won. It'll match up with the Dominican Republic, who finished second in Pool B. ESPN Stats & Info noted why that's not exactly a gimme for the Brazilians:

Meanwhile, Team USA will face off with hosts Canada, who were unbeaten in pool play.

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