After defeating the Dominican Republic to kick off the 2011 Pan American Games, Team USA faced the defending champions, Brazil, in game two.
Led by former San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros guard, Blake Ahearn, Team USA defeated Brazil 88-77 in a tense matchup that saw a scuffle break out in the remaining quarter.
Ahearn finished with 21 points, 2 assists and 2 rebounds in 21 minutes. Toros’ Lance Thomas finished with 8 points and 12 rebounds and Leo Lyons grabbed 2 rebounds in limited action.
After being behind on the scoreboard for most of the game, the Americans clawed back from a 17 point deficit in the third quarter to remain undefeated.
What made the comeback more satisfying was that Brazil outscored the U.S. 17-6 and took a commanding lead at 55-38 in the third quarter. But with intense defense late in the third and fourth quarter, the U.S. came roaring back and outscored Brazil 50-22 in the second half.
“It wasn’t just one guy, we had so many guys at different points in the game that made plays for us and even the guys who weren’t in were on the bench cheering us on. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us and we’re trying to make the most of it,” said Ahearn.
And with an amazing 20-2 run in the fourth, it all put Brazil out of the game as the U.S. outscored Brazil 32-16 in the final quarter.
But the game wasn’t without its tense moments. In the waning moment of the fourth quarter, players had to be separated as a Brazilian player slung American player Justin Dentmon to the court. Prior to that incident, Ahearn and another Brazilian player got into each others face as Ahearn didn’t appreciate an obvious hard hit.
With the win, the U.S. will advance into the medal round semifinals with Group B’s number one seed. The USA finishes its preliminary round play tonight against Uruguay.