tampabay.com

Wade makes sure Team USA gets its medals

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published September 3, 2006


SAITAMA, Japan - Stuck in yet another bronze-medal game they never planned for, Dwyane Wade and his teammates could have come out with a lackluster effort.

Instead, Wade treated the game as if it were the NBA Finals. Then he played like it.

Wade scored 18 of his 32 in the fourth quarter, helping the United States pull away for a 96-81 victory over Argentina on Saturday night in the third-place game at the World Championship.

"This game was everything it was pumped up to be if it was in the finals," Wade said. "I give credit to my teammates for playing their hearts out when a lot of people didn't think so. This was a big step. We gained a lot of respect and love for each other. This summer was not a waste. We learned a lot."

Playing one night after a 101-95 loss to Greece ended their title hopes, the Americans delivered a strong performance and avoided leaving the championships empty-handed for the second straight time. They finished sixth in 2002.

After collecting their bronze medals, LeBron James and Chris Paul threw their sneakers into the crowd of more than 16,000 at Saitama Super Arena.

france 64, turkey 56: Florent Pietrus scored 12, including four free throws in the final 1:10, and had nine rebounds to lead France in the fifth-place game, matching its best result since finishing fifth in 1943.

France (6-3) was expected to be a medal contender until star guard Tony Parker of the Spurs broke a finger in the final exhibition game before the tournament.

"We are so happy to finish in fifth place. This is a big honor for our country to finish so close to the final four teams," coach Claude Bergeaud said. "The story of our country and the results show it was a long, long time ago. It wasn't easy being here without Tony Parker. We were obliged to build a new team because Tony Parker was very important to this team. These players can be proud."

GASOL OUT: Pau Gasol, Spain's leading scorer and rebounder, has a partial fracture in his left foot and will not play in the World Championship gold-medal game against Greece tonight, according to team officials.

In a release on the team's web site Saturday night, Gasol, who was injured in the final minutes of the semifinal victory over Argentina, has "a partial fracture to the base of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot, so he will be unavailable" for the championship game.

The 7-foot Gasol, who plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, hurt his left foot when he was fouled with 1:36 remaining in the 75-74 victory over Argentina. He made the two free throws to give Spain (8-0) a 73-67 lead, then left for the bench.

WNBA FINALS: Perfection was never Sacramento's goal, yet the defending champion was perhaps one quarter away from a flawless run through the playoffs.

The Monarchs won their first five postseason games and took a lead into the fourth quarter of Game 2 at Detroit on Friday night. That's when everything fell apart: The Monarchs' defensive pressure waned, and the shots that had fallen for 5½ straight games suddenly missed.

The Shock avoided an 0-2 deficit with a rally for a 73-63 victory, and the clubs headed across the country for Game 3 today in a best-of-five series that seemed far from even in its first seven quarters.

"They had to win (Game 2)," Sacramento coach John Whisenant said. "I think they knew that. They felt going back to our place down 0-2 would have been a very deep hole, but now they are back right where they want to be, right in the thick of things."