The latest additions to their proofs came as the U.S. Athletes In Action team defeated Lebanon 81-70 on Friday. The win moved the U.S. team into a second place tie in the tournament with a 3-2 mark.
Although Nichols and Ruoff combined for just ten points, they filled up the stat sheet in just about every manner possible. Nichols had four assists and four rebounds against just one turnover, and made his only three-point attempt of the day. Ruoff had five rebounds, three assists four steals and a blocked shot while scoring seven points. Although he did commit three turnovers, Ruoff again showed his versatility on both the offensive and defensive ends as the U.S. squad moved back into contention for the tournament title.
After spotting Lebanon, regarded as the second best team in
Asia behind only China, a nine-point lead, Athletes in Action rallied for the win.
With the victory AIA improved to 3-2 in the tournament to move into a tie for
second place with Lebanon, who fell to 3-2. Jordan is in first place with a 4-1
Trailing 9-0, AIA went on a 13-3 run to take a one-point lead, the first of 10
lead changes before halftime. The first quarter ended with Lebanon holding a
slim 22-20 advantage.
The lead continued to switch at start of second quarter, changing four times in
the first three minutes before AIA tied the game at 26-all.
AIA scored 13 unanswered points in less than four minutes, capped by a lay-up
off a steal of the inbounds pass by Ruoff.
Two minutes later, Rawlings' slam dunk propelled AIA to a 15-point advantage
with 1:16 left before intermission. The U.S. held a 45-33 lead at halftime.
The Americans continued to extend their lead in the third quarter receiving
excellent play from its post players. Donald Sloan gave AIA its largest lead of the night, 20, by hitting two free
throws with 3:46 remaining in the period. The U.S. led by 15, 64-49, after three
Lebanon trimmed the U.S. lead to seven, 67-60, inside of six minutes remaining
after both Gibson and Hendley fouled out.
Ruoff pushed the U.S. lead back to double figures with a three with 5:42
remaining. Rawlings then converted a traditional three-point play to give AIA a
13-point lead and a double digit advantage that it never relinquished.
AIA will look for its fourth win in the last five games Saturday, July 7, as it
faces Kazakhstan at 1 p.m. (1 a.m. EDT).