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July 31, 1998

ATHENS, Greece -- Jason Sasser (Sioux Falls Skyforce / Caja San Fernando, Spain / Texas Tech '95) scored 11 of the USA's first 13 points of the second half to help the USA Basketball men's team break away from South Korea (0-3) and capture an 88-62 victory Friday evening in its final preliminary round game of the FIBA World Championship. The win improved the USA's record to 2-1 and earned the Americans the number two seed for Group C. The United States now advances to the medal second round Group F and is joined by Lithuania, Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Australia. The top four finishers from each second round group advance to the medal quarterfinals.

"Today against South Korea we were playing a very dangerous team because of their style of play. Because of their lack of size they have to play the style they do and they are very good at. We were concerned because if you fall into the trap of playing defense against them the wrong way, they are capable of winning the game," said United States head mentor Rudy Tomjanovich. "We did a tremendous job of sticking with the discipline that you have to have, not only on defense, but on offense. Right up until the end of the game we played a smart, well executed basketball game.

"South Korea has a habit of keeping games close and we had to make a three-point shot right at the end of the first half just to be up by 10. Then our guys started the second half, led by Jason Sasser, very aggressive and opened the game up."

"We came out very aggressive in the second half and we knew what we had to do as far as hopping on them early. We did a good job of getting each other the ball and getting open looks and we started knocking down our shots in the second half," said Sasser.

Sasser and forward David Wood (Rockford Lightning / Unicaja Malaga, Spain / Nevada Reno '87) made sure the USA got off to a good start and combined to score the team's first 12 points as the USA took a 12-8 lead with 16:32 to go in the first half. But South Korea made four of its first seven three-point attempts and with 13:47 in the opening stanza left, the contest was tied 15-15. Gerard King (Siena, Italy / Nicholls State '96) scored to ignite an 11-1 USA scoring run, and after Kiwane Garris (Grand Rapids Hoops / Illinois '97) capped the run with back-to-back field goals, the U.S. was out in front 26-16.

South Korea, which made 8-of-22 three-point attempts in the first half alone, continued to rely on the three and after making another three pointer with 18 seconds remaining in the half, had closed to within seven, 41-34. Duke senior guard Trajan Langdon sent the U.S. to the locker room on a high note when he drained a three-pointer with one second left to give the U.S. a 44-34 edge.

The U.S. sealed the win early in the second half after outscoring South Korea 13-4 over the first 6:19 to take control 57-38. South Korea never again got closer than 13 as the U.S. rolled to the 88-62 victory.

Sasser finished as the game's high scorer with 17 points, and the U.S. offense also received solid efforts from Wendell Alexis (Alba Berlin, Germany / Syracuse '86), who celebrated his 34th birthday Friday, and Jimmy King (Quad City Thunder / Michigan '95), with each accounting for 13 points, and Jimmy Oliver (Ciuda De Huelva, Spain / Purdue '91) finished with 11 points. The U.S. led by Gerard King's nine rebounds, out rebounded the shorter Korean squad 46 to 24.

The U.S. shot well from the field, hitting 34-of-62 attempts (54.8 percent), including 7-of-14 (50.0 percent) from three-point. South Korea hit 33.3 percent of its three-pointers, making just 12-of-36, and shot only 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) from inside the three-point stripe.

In Friday's other preliminary round games, Lithuania (3-0) rallied in the game's final minutes to defeat Brazil (1-2) 66-60 and capture the Group C number one seed, while Brazil earned the number three seed from Group B. Yugoslavia remained perfect in Group B with a 99-54 defeat of Japan (0-3), and Russia (2-1) earned the number two seed for Group B after beating Puerto Rico (1-2)

The 13th FIBA Men's World Championship are being held July 29-August 9 in Athens with teams from 16 countries competing for the gold medal. The United States will continue its play in the World Championship with second round group play slated to be conducted August 2-4. The U.S., following a day off on August 1, resumes action on August 2 facing the yet to be determined number two seed from Group D (the loser of tonight's Argentina-Spain game). The USA's August 3 game against the Group D number one seed (the winner of tonight's Argentina-Spain game) will be televised by ESPN2, and the USA concludes its second round play on August 3 against Australia in a game also televised by ESPN2.

The top four finishing teams from each second round group advance to the quarterfinals on August 7. Medal round semifinals and finals action will be held August 8-9. ESPN2 will also televise the USA's quarterfinal game if it advances on, and could also televise the USA semifinals if they win their quarterfinal match, as well as the gold medal game if the United States advances.

1998 FIBA Men's World Championship Schedule

  • Preliminary Rounds
    Wednesday, July 29
    Lithuania 97, South Korea 56
    Russia 83 Japan 58
    USA 83, Brazil 59
    Yugoslavia 80, Puerto Rico 66
    Spain 80, Nigeria 68
    Italy 76, Senegal 66
    Argentina 66, Australia 62
    Greece 78, Canada 72

    Thursday, July 30
    Puerto Rico 78, Japan 57
    Brazil 76, South Korea 73
    Yugoslavia 82, Russia 74 (OT)
    Lithuania 84, USA 82
    Canada 70, Senegal 57
    Argentina 68, Nigeria 51
    Greece 64, Italy 56
    Spain 77, Australia 76

    Friday, July 31
    Lithuania 66, Brazil 60
    Yugoslavia 99, Japan 54
    USA 88, South Korea 62
    Russia 86, Puerto Rico 73
    Australia 70, Nigeria 64
    Canada - Italy
    10:00 p.m.
    Argentina - Spain
    Senegal - Greece

    Preliminary - Second Round
    (The top three teams from each Preliminary Round group qualified for the medal second round)

  • Group E/Group F
    Greece (A1) 3-0, Lituania (C1) 3-0
    Canada/Italy (A2), USA (C2) 2-1
    Canada/Italy (A3), Brazil (C3) 1-2
    Yugoslavia (B1) 3-0, Argentina/Spain (D1)
    Russia (B2) 2-1, Argentina/Spain (D2)
    Puerto Rico (B3) 1-2, Australia (D3) 1-2

  • Quarterfinals
    (The top four teams from Second Round group qualify for the medal quarterfinals round)
    Friday, August 7
    3:15 p.m. E1 - F4
    5:30 p.m. E3 - F2
    7:45 p.m. E2 - F3
    10:00 p.m. E4 - F1

    Classification Round
    11:00 a.m. E5 - F6
    1:00 p.m. E6 - F5

  • Semifinals
    Saturday, August 8
    10:00 a.m. 11th/12th Place: Loser E5 - F6 vs. Loser E6 - F5
    12:00 p.m. 9th/10th Place: Winner E5 - F6 vs. Winner E6 - F5
    2:15 p.m. Loser E1 - F4 vs. Loser E3 - F2
    4:30 p.m. Loser E2 - F3 vs. Loser E4 - F1
    6:45 p.m. Winner E1 - F4 vs. Winner E3 - F2
    9:00 p.m. Winner E2 - F3 vs. Winner E4 - F1

  • Finals
    Sunday, August 9
    1:15 p.m. 7th/8th Place Game
    3:30 p.m. 5th/6th Place Game
    5:45 p.m. Bronze Medal Game
    8:00 p.m. Gold Medal Game

    NOTE: Game times listed are Athens time, which is 7 hours ahead of EDT



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