Stepp, USA Face Tough Pan Am Games Bracket
July 31, 2003
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - The draw for the men's basketball competition at the 2003 Pan American Games was announced Wednesday and the USA men will have their hands full when they battle for Pan Am gold.
The preliminary round groups for the 14th Pan American Games men's basketball competition feature the United States in Group B with Argentina, Puerto Rico and Uruguay, while Group A consists of Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic and Mexico.
The USA will open against Argentina on Saturday in a 4 p.m. PDT contest. The American collegians will then face Puerto Rico on Sunday (4 p.m. PDT) and Uruguay on Monday (noon PDT). The top two finishing teams from the two preliminary round groups will advance to the Tuesday medal round semifinals and the finals will be played Wednesday.
Michigan State University's Tom Izzo is serving as head coach for the 2003 USA Basketball Men's Pan American Games Team. He is being assisted by collegiate head coaches Lorenzo Romar from the University of Washington and Quin Snyder from the University of Missouri.
Members of the USA team are Andre Barrett (Seton Hall / Bronx, N.Y.); Josh Childress (Stanford / Los Angeles, Calif.); Ike Diogu (Arizona State / Garland, Texas); Ben Gordon (Connecticut / Mount Vernon, N.Y.); Chuck Hayes (Kentucky / Modesto, Calif.); Chris Hill (Michigan State / Indianapolis, Ind.); Luke Jackson (Oregon / Creswell, Ore.); Arthur Johnson (Missouri / Detroit, Mich.); Brandon Mouton (Texas / Lafayette, La.); Emeka Okafor (Connecticut / Houston, Texas); Rickey Paulding (Missouri / Detroit, Mich.); and Blake Stepp (Gonzaga / Eugene, Ore.).
The USA men, who fell 95-78 to Brazil in the 1999 gold medal game in Winnipeg, Canada, have earned a medal in 12 of their 13 Pan Am Games appearances, including a record eight golds, as well as three silvers and one bronze; and currently own a 79-8 (.908) all-time mark at the Pan Am Games.
Held since 1951, the USA dominated the first five Pan Am Games, earning five consecutive golds. At the 1971 Pan Ams, despite a record of 2-1 in the preliminary round, the USA did not advance to the medal round and for the first time in Pan American history did not win the gold medal. However, the United States rebounded for a 26-0 record over the next three Pan Am Games and captured its last Pan Am gold in 1983. While the gold has eluded the U.S. in the past four Games, with the Americans earning three silvers and a bronze medal, the United States is aiming high for 2003.
Many USA Basketball athletes who have been selected to a Pan American Games team have gone on to compete in the Olympic Games, while many others enjoyed stellar professional careers. In all, 34 Pan Am athletes have been a member of a U.S. Olympic squad, including Ernie Grunfeld, Grant Hill, Luscious Jackson, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, Danny Manning, Chris Mullin, Sam Perkins, Oscar Robertson, David Robinson, Isiah Thomas, Jerry West and Jo Jo White.
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