GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) – The gold-medal drought in men’s basketball for the Untied States at the Pan American Games will last at least another four years after a 71-55 loss to Mexico in Saturday’s semifinals.
The United States has not won Pan American gold since 1983.
Mexico is headed in the other direction. The Mexicans last won a medal in 1991 — a silver — and are now guaranteed of at least second place.
Jovan Harris led Mexico with 15 points, while Lorenzo Mata of UCLA added 12 and Paul Stoll scored eight. Harris and Stoll were born in the United States, but carry Mexican nationality.
“I can’t say it wasn’t special beating the United States,” Stoll said. “I had never played against an American team.”
Leo Lyons scored 13 to lead the United States, which is using players from the NBA D-League.
“Even though we lost it was fun. It’s something you can bank some memories on,” United States forward Renaldo Major said.
“The crowd was crazy. … It was a great atmosphere and I loved it and I wouldn’t mind playing in here again.”
The Americans needed come-from behind victories in group play against the Dominican Republic and Brazil to reach the semifinals. But on Saturday they trailed 39-24 at halftime and never recovered.
“Mexico just kept coming at us and we didn’t make the shots when we needed to,” United States coach Nate Tibbetts said.
Mexico will meet either Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic in Sunday’s final. The Americans will play for bronze against the loser of that game.
“We got to bounce back,” Tibbetts said. “Obviously we are disappointed as anyone would be, but tomorrow’s game is a big one. Not a lot people can say they won a bronze medal.”
The raucous atmosphere gave Mexico an advantage, although Tibbetts said his players enjoyed the wild cheering and the energy of fans dressed mostly in green and waving red, white and green Mexican flags.
“That was a high intensity atmosphere,” he said. “Mexico has done an excellent job putting this on, and this was a great setting for a game. As players and coaches you love to go in and play the host team in a big game and you have to take your hat off to Mexico.”