America thrashes Canada

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2003

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) Canada didn't just surrender a lead. Their coach surrendered when they still had the lead.

Steve Nash led the way as Canada outplayed and outscored the United States in the first quarter, but Nash stayed on the bench for the rest of the game Monday night in what eventually became a 111-71 victory for the Americans.

Nash had five assists, including several on alley-oop dunks, as Canada led 28-21 at the end of the first quarter. But coach Jay Triano apparently viewing the game as ultimately unwinnable never put Nash back in.

The U.S. team, playing without leading scorer Tracy McGrady (sprained back), outscored Canada 30-11 in the second quarter to take control for good.

Next up for the Americans is a game at 5 p.m. EDT Tuesday against Argentina, the nation that last summer became the first team to defeat a U.S. team comprised of professional players.

Some have nicknamed this year's American squad the ''Redeem Team,'' and this will be their first chance to avenge one of the losses from last summer's World Championships when they finished a disappointing sixth.

''We still thought they were kind of unbeatable. I think they were the best players in that tournament, but they looked like they didn't want to play together,'' Argentina's Manu Ginobili said. ''But now I think they learned from that mistake, and they are not the same.''

Argentina defeated Brazil 76-74 Monday in its first game of the second round, taking over sole possession of second place in the standings. It is widely expected that Argentina and the United States will play again this weekend, either in the semifinals or the gold medal game.

''We have to think in a future matchup, not tomorrow's game,'' Argentina forward Fabricio Oberto said.

Perhaps the Americans were looking past Canada while playing a sloppy first quarter. An alley-oop dunk by Greg Newton off a pass from Nash gave Canada a 13-12 lead, and a turnover by Mike Bibby led to a breakaway layup by Prosper Karangwa to increase the lead to 28-19.

It took the U.S. team less than four minutes of the second quarter to tie the game, doing so on a driving layup by Ray Allen with 6:09 left before halftime. Allen followed with a 3-pointer and a fast-break layup, and the Americans opened a 51-39 halftime lead.

Canada pulled to 63-50 with 5:40 left in the third quarter, which somehow prompted Triano to remove his leading scorer, Rowan Barrett.

Iverson promptly responded with three 3-pointers as the Americans went on a 14-2 run, and the U.S. team took a 82-59 lead into the fourth quarter as Iverson beat the buzzer with a 35-footer his seventh 3-pointer of the period.

Iverson had the highest point total ever for a U.S. player in an Olympic qualifier. The old mark was 25 by Gary Payton against the Dominican Republic on July 19, 1999. Iverson also became the first U.S. player to surpass 20 points in this tournament.

In Monday's other games, Mexico defeated the Dominican Republic 100-91 and Puerto Rico beat Venezuela 84-59.

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