KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Former Lady Vol basketball standout Diamond DeShields played a key role, as the USA women finished the tournament 6-0 and claimed a FIBA AmeriCup gold medal on Sunday night in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In the title contest, the USA defeated previously unbeaten Canada (5-1), 67-46, to end that nation’s back-to-back streak of AmeriCup crowns.
The USA, which outscored its six opponents by 38.7 points per game during the tournament, featured three players on the AmeriCup All-Star Five Team, including DeShields, Jordin Canada and tourney MVP Sylvia Fowles.
DeShields started all six games and was second on the squad at 9.8 points per contest. She also was second for the Americans in assists (20) and three-pointers (5), and third in steals (6). The LVFL shot 53 percent from the field (23-43), 41 percent from long range (5-12) and 88 percent from the free throw line (8-9).
In the gold medal game, the USA led 14-9 in a low scoring first quarter, and Canada scored the first seven points of the second quarter to pull ahead 16-14. A three from Canada’s Miranda Ayim pushed Canada in front 19-18 and with 3:21 remaining before intermission and following a three from Canada’s Aaliyah Edwards, the USA led by a point, 25-24.
Getting four points from (Jordin) Canada, three points from DeShields and two points from Tina Charles, the Americans closed out the first half with 9-0 run to create some breathing space and take a 34-24 lead to the locker room at halftime. A 23-14 third quarter by the USA put the game out of reach.
“It’s always an honor to be recognized as one of the top players in a tournament like this,” DeShields said. “There are so many great players, talented players, and I’m just honored.”
The USA has played in four previous FIBA Americas Championships, historically used as a qualifier for an Olympics or FIBA World Cup, in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2007.
The top eight nations at the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the USA, qualified to compete in one of two 2019 FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, Nov. 10-18.
Prior to the gold medal game, the eight qualified teams were drawn into two groups of four, and Canada will host in Edmonton Group A, which also includes Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Group B, which features Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and the USA, will compete in Bahia Blanca, Argentina. The top two teams from each of those groups will earn the right to play in one of the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (sites TBD), Feb. 2-10.
As was the case over the past three quadrenniums, the 2019-20 USA National Team roster, which currently lists 34 athletes, will be fluid. It is expected that the official, 12-member 2020 U.S. Olympic Team will be comprised of players from the 2019-20 USA National Team.