KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee basketball player Derek Reese totaled 20 points and 16 rebounds Sunday to power his Puerto Rican U19 team past China by a score of 84-71 on the final day of the 2012 Nike Global Challenge at the Washington D.C. Armory.
Puerto Rico finished the three-day event with a 1-2 record to claim seventh place. Reese started all three games for Puerto Rico, averaging 21.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 32.0 minutes per game (all three were team-highs). The Orlando, Fla., native shot .458 from the field, .400 from 3-point range and .917 from the free-throw line.
Looking to avoid an 0-3 finish at the event, the Puerto Rican squad got off to a rough start Sunday, as it trailed 19-13 after the first quarter. Reese and his teammates then regrouped to hold China to just nine points in the second quarter and eight points in the third. Puerto Rico shot an impressive .429 (12-28) from beyond the arc, with Reese making 4-of-8 attempts from long range.
“Right from the beginning, our team came out with a lot of energy because we did not want to come out of this tournament without a ‘W,’” said Reese, who will be a freshman forward with the Vols this season. “China is a really smart and fundamental team that can really shoot the ball. But our quickness and athleticism was too much for them.”
Sunday’s game did mark the first contest for Puerto Rico at the challenge in which Reese did not claim high-scorer honors. Chinese forward Gao Shang made 12-of-25 shots, including six 3-pointers, en route to a game-high 35 points. Reese’s teammate, guard David Rosado, scored 23 points to pace Puerto Rico’s winning effort.
The USA Midwest team is scheduled to face Canada in Sunday’s championship game.
Reese was eligible to compete on the Puerto Rican team for the Nike Global Challenge because his grandmother, Irma Montanez, was born in Puerto Rico.
(E-mail Stan Crawley at email@example.com)