(Photo: North Pole Hoops)
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“They are a nice, polite group of young men who handled themselves professionally all week and who obviously competed very hard in practice and in the game. They were very respectful and appreciative of the opportunity they were given here and they showed what a very, very good bunch of basketball players they are, also.”
The World Team stunned the USA by racing into a 10-0 lead from the tip-off, with Wiggins and Wang scoring four points each. Wiggins would go on to score 15 points in the first half and two free-throws from Michal Michalak (LKS Lodz and Poland) with four seconds remaining in the second period, built the half-time lead to 52-34, the biggest of the game. However, the USA opened the second half strongly, inspired by Shabazz Muhammad who would go on to score 35 points, a Hoop Summit record, with the World Team failing to score in the opening 3:39 minutes of the third period.
The USA outscored the World 21-12 in the third quarter, setting the stage for a dramatic finale in which Gary Harris tied the game at 72-72 with 4:25 to play. Kyle Anderson gave the hosts their first, and only, lead at 75-74 but the World finished the game with a magnificent 10-0 run and held the Americans scoreless for the final 3:21 of the game. A long three-pointer from Anthony Bennett (Findlay Prep and Canada) as the shot clock expired with 22 seconds remaining killed off the USA once and for all at 81-75.
“I’m just happy that Andrew was able to show everyone what a special talent he is,” added Coach Rana of Wiggins. “I know Muhammad scored 35 but in some ways Andrew was the most impressive player on the court. “
"Anthony, also, showed he is just a great player on any team. He has great leadership skills, plays hard, plays within himself and hit that huge three-pointer and had a huge rebound to help us win."
“Those two young men show the quality of the talent coming out of Canada and the job so many coaches are doing in our country of developing young players at a young age. It’s a proud moment for our country.”
Some comments from the 2012 Nike Hoop Summit players:
Andrew Wiggins (Canada): On his cut lip in the first half:
“It didn’t need stitches but, even if it had, I wouldn’t have come out of the game. “It’s an honor to be on the list of some of the great players who have played in this game and gone on to play in the NBA to this day. But the experience has been more than that. Meeting new people has been important; the international players are great, they’re all friendly and unselfish; the sort of people you want to surround yourself with.“And it has been great having someone alongside me from Canada. It wasn’t until his (Bennett’s) three-pointer went in that I knew we had finally won.”
Anthony Bennett (Canada): On his important three-pointer:
“I knew it was good as soon as it came out of my hands. I take a lot of those sort of shots in practice but I have never hit a three from so far in a game. “
“The US came out pretty hard and physical, but that’s their game, that’s how they have played throughout the years, and we matched them pretty well. We stopped them from shooting a lot of threes and limited their points in the paint so that helped as well. “
“It is a real compliment to be one of the top players in Canada and coming here, playing for my country, was a huge honor.”
Wang Zhelin (China): “It was one of the most enjoyable games of my career. I am wearing the Chinese flag on my uniform so I feel very proud. It was a physical, hard game but the last few minutes were so enjoyable. ? “I wanted to come here to improve myself and that is what I have tried to do at every practice. I am definitely going home a better player. But also I have enjoyed meeting team mates from all over the world. Everybody has been very friendly.”
Michal Michalak (Poland): “I have played against US (national) teams three times now and this is my first win so that feels very good. The game was very tough. The referees didn’t call many fouls, for either side, so it was very tough to break through the defense because the defense was allowed to play by the referees. “
“But it was an exciting game because it was not clear who was going to win it until the very end. They came back in the second half and it was our composure – and a little dose of luck – that allowed us to win the game. That was a big three-point shot by AB (Anthony Bennett) because that gave us a six-point lead.“
“All the week the whole team has had a good relationship with each other and I think that helped us to win the game, as well as make new friends for life.”
Leo Westermann (France): “My coach at my club Asvel told me that 12 years ago Tony Parker (NBA All Star and part owner of Westermann’s club Asvel) played in the Hoop Summit and reporters asked him before the game whether he thought the World Team could beat the USA. His answer was, ‘Do you really think that in the whole world nobody else knows how to play basketball? “I say the same thing now after this win. Any time you beat the USA, it is a great win and this is one of the best wins of my career.”
“I play in professional basketball in France and, for sure, that helped me today because when the USA got back into this game, that experience I have was essential. Every player on our team has confidence in each other and we kept cool heads. We know how to attack the press and that is something we did very well in the last three or four minutes.”
Vytenis Cizauskas (Lithuania): “This was one of the most enjoyable games in my whole career and one of the most enjoyable weeks. Of course the win made the week so memorable but every practice with these guys has been a great experience and the learning will make me a better player for the future.”