by David Cassilo / @dcassilo
With fifth place on the line at the World University Games in China, Trevor Mbakwe paced the United States with 21 points to defeat Germany, 86-83.
While the win was a positive note to end on for the eight game tournament, finishing only in fifth was a disappointment for the United States. A loss to Lithuania in the quarterfinals knocked the United States from medal contention, but did not crush the team’s spirit enough to stop them from competing to the end.
“For these guys, their goal was to win the gold medal,” said United States head coach Matt Painter in a press release. “Then after you stub your toe and lose in the quarters, a lot of people would kind of check out and go through the motions. These guys didn’t. You have to give them credit for coming out here and winning the fight. We didn’t come here to get fifth place, but after you get beat you just come out and do the best that you can. I’m really proud of these guys for fighting these past two games.”
The United States trailed by one point at halftime, but a strong performance from Mbakwe and John Jenkins, who finished with 15 points, was enough to spark their team’s victory.
In the gold medal game, Serbia prevailed over Canada, winning 68-55.