LIMA, PERU – The USA Men’s Team defeats Brazil in the final round of pool play (87-47). Both teams entered the game 2-0 in pool play and were seeking to earn the top seed entering the quarter-final on Wednesday at the Polideportivo Arena in Lima, Peru.
As predicted by the USA coaching staff and players, Brazil began the game with a high level of skill, effort, and passion. The Brazilian squad also proved to have greater depth and size than the prior two teams that the USA Men’s Team had played. That resulted in a nine-point lead for Team USA after the first quarter, the smallest lead so far in the tournament.
It was the duo of Mike Paye (Gross Pointe, MI) and Steve Serio (Westbury, NY), co-captains of the men’s team, who came out setting the tone in the first quarter. Paye scored 11 points and assisted on four other opportunities, impacting 19 of the Americans’ 22 points. There was a brief stretch where the U.S. went scoreless on several possessions, and it was at this point that Serio would begin to make his presence felt. For the next three minutes, Serio would score eight points and assist Paye on another.
Paye and Serio began to develop this chemistry on the international level since 2006 when they each made their first USA Senior Men’s World Championship Team. Serio spoke about how their history together benefits the team.
“It helps us set the tone, especially early in the game. That’s our job as leaders, and we hope to continue that success as the tournament continues,” he said.
Serio would continue showing his leadership throughout the 22 minutes he played, including all 20 minutes of the first half. It was most evident in how he ran the point, pushing the tempo of the game, and dishing nine dimes to various teammates.
It was Trevon Jenifer (Huntingtown, Maryland) who had a breakout game, scoring his highest point total of the tournament thus far with 18. For Jenifer and the team, it is about more than just winning.
“We’re trying to exceed expectations here, exceed what we came here to do. We’re getting better every day,” he said.
Trevon has been involved with the USA Wheelchair Basketball since making the Under 23 World Championship Team that won gold. Over his tenure with Team USA, Trevon has grown from a primarily defensive-oriented player to becoming comfortable establishing a presence on both sides of the court.
Trevon’s performance today is a testament to setting goals for himself and believing he can achieve them at the highest level. He’s been fighting the odds from an early age and continues to show that the only limitations we have are those limitations we set on ourselves. “We’ve all had our fair share of hard times, especially myself where I’ve grown up, but having those opportunities and taking advantage of them is key,” said Jenifer. “You can’t let an opportunity slip away from you. I think that’s what we’re doing here. Capitalizing on all those opportunities has gotten me to where I am.”
Team USA will enter the quarter-finals on Wednesday, August 26th (game time and opponent TBD). Check NWBA social media for updates on game time and how to follow your men’s and women’s teams.