GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Reggie Hearn hit a long jumper from the right corner as time expired, and the United States defeated Argentina 84-83 on Monday night in the final qualifying game before this summer’s FIBA World Cup for both teams.
Hearn — who played in more games than anyone else for the U.S. in the qualifying — connected to cap a 7-0 run that ended the game and gave the Americans first place in Group E of qualifying for the tournament.
Michael Frazier II led the U.S. (10-2) with 23 points. Charles Cooke added 10 for the Americans, whose spot in the World Cup field — where NBA players will take over for the G Leaguers who were called upon for the qualifying games — was clinched long ago.
Argentina (9-3) is also World Cup-bound.
The U.S. trailed by as many as nine in the fourth, and was down by six with 1:20 remaining before the game-ending flurry.
Travis Trice hit a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left to get the U.S. within one, and the Americans got a stop on the next possession. With a chance at the lead, Josh Adams’ jumper missed — but the ball went out off Argentina with 1 second left, giving the U.S. one final opportunity.
U.S. coach Jeff Van Gundy set up the play for Hearn, who delivered.
Lucio Redivo scored 18 points for Argentina, which got 16 from Facundo Pinero and 14 from Marcos Delia.
Xavier Munford had five points and Chinanu Onuaku had a pair of dunks in an 11-0 run that put the U.S. up 26-14 early in the second quarter, and the Americans went into the locker room up 42-35 at the half.
But the third quarter was a big problem for the U.S.
Argentina controlled the entire 10 minutes, outscoring the Americans 30-17. Delia’s reverse-pivot move in the post turned into a three-point play with 5:37 left as Argentina took its first lead at 51-49, and the visitors were up 65-59 going into the fourth.
Nicolas Brussino then got the final quarter started with a 3-pointer, ending what was a 54-33 spurt over 20 minutes.
The U.S. rallied and tied the game at 75-75 on a 3-pointer by Trice, capping a 14-5 run by the Americans. Argentina scored the next six, and the U.S. then scored the final seven.
It was fitting that Hearn took the final shot of qualifying. The U.S. used 52 players during the 12 qualifying games, with Hearn being the lone one who appeared in more than half those contests.
“It’s one of the great honors of a lifetime to be able to coach a United States basketball team with that ‘USA’ across their chest,” Van Gundy said.
Argentina: No Argentinian-born player has appeared in the NBA yet this season. If that doesn’t change, this will be the first since 2001-02 that Argentina didn’t have a player in the league. … Argentina and the U.S. split two games in this round of qualifying.
USA: The roster that the U.S. will have in China remains unknown and almost certainly won’t be finalized before mid-July, but New Orleans’ Anthony Davis has said he’s planning to play. “I’m excited to be a part of it. I know it’s going to be fun. Any time I go to China, it’s always fun. So I’m excited for the World Cup,” Davis said at All-Star weekend.
Monday was the final day of qualifying, and five teams were still alive for three spots.
Montenegro took the 12th and last spot from the European region, despite losing to Latvia 80-74. The Latvians needed to win by nine points, and a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a trip to the World Cup was off the mark. The outcome meant three of Europe’s top 10 national teams in the FIBA rankings — Slovenia, Croatia and Latvia — are not going to China this summer.
The last two spots were being decided out of the Americas region later Monday night, with Puerto Rico, Uruguay and the Dominican Republic in the mix for those berths.
China automatically qualified as tournament host. The rest of the 32-team World Cup field, by region:
Africa — Angola, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia.
Americas — Argentina, Brazil, Canada, United States, Venezuela.
Asia — Australia, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Korea, New Zealand, Philippines.
Europe — Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Turkey.
Both the U.S. and Argentina, along with the other 30 qualified nations, will learn their World Cup draw on March 16.