Mbakwe propels Team USA to fifth in World Tournament

by Derek Wetmore

SHENZHEN, China (News Services)—  Behind a dominate performance from Trevor Mbakwe, who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, the 2011 USA Men’s World University Games Team (7-1) never lost its poise in a close 86-83 win over Germany (6-2) to finish in fifth place in the 2011 World University Games on Monday night at Luohu Gym in Shenzhen, China.

Trailing by one point at halftime, 41-40, the USA outscored its opponent 28-12 in the points-in-the-paint category and grabbed 19 boards to Germany’s 8 in the second half to help the Americans hold onto a
hard-fought win that was decided in the final minutes.

Mbakwe was 7-of-9 from the field and after drawing 12 fouls from the German side, finished 7-of-9 from the charity stripe as well.

“In the second half I thought our guys did a good job of getting the ball inside and trying to establish Trevor (Mbwake) and JaMychal (Green) on the interior,” said USA and Purdue University head mentor Matt Painter. “We thought that could loosen up some things. Obviously their big guys were in foul trouble. We did a great job on the glass in the second half, and we did a great job of getting it inside to those two guys.”

Knocked from medal contention by Lithuania (6-2) in the quarterfinals, the USA responded with two wins to secure the best record in the tournament. Capturing the gold medal was Serbia (6-1) with a 68-55 win over Canada (5-2) in the tournament’s final contest.

“For these guys, their goal was to win the gold medal,” Painter continued. “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.”