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Bison alumni, student-athletes lead Team USA to first gold at 2019 World Deaf Basketball Championship

Team USA group photo after receiving their gold medals at the 2019 World Deaf Basketball Championships in Poland

LUBLIN, Poland - Team USA won its first World Deaf Basketball Championship here Saturday in Poland as the men's team defeated Lithuania, the reigning world champions, 105-77, in the GLOBUS Sports Hall at the 2019 World Deaf Basketball Championships.

Team USA went a perfect 2-0 during Pool D play with wins over Greece (69-53) and Japan (93-41). In the medal round, Team USA defeated Spain (105-55) in the quarterfinals and dispatched Russia (91-76) in the semifinal round. The men's world championship consisted of 15 teams during the 10-day tournament.

Team USA had several Gallaudet alumni and current student-athletes on the roster. Team USA was led by rising seniors Noah Valencia (Riverside, Calif.) and Steve Valencia-Biskupiak (Riverside, Calif.), rising junior Preston Kelly (Fishers, Ind.) and former GU student-athlete Matthew Sherman. Gallaudet alumni include Head Coach Jimmy Newsome, assistant coach Jeff Ploederi, Ben Coleman, Andy Cruz, Jeremias Valencia along with athletic trainer Tom McKnight and manager Jomar Figueroa.

Valencia led all-scorers in the gold medal game with 33 points as he made 10 of 25 field goals from the floor and sank five 3-pointers to go with eight rebounds, five assists and four steals. Cruz tallied 18 points and five rebounds while Valencia-Biskupiak added 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Coleman was one of the five Team USA players in double figures with 14 points.

Valencia was named the tournament MVP while teammate Michael Lizarraga was selected to the Best Five all-tournament team.

The best Team USA had finished in previous World Deaf Basketball Championships was two silver medal performances in 2002 and most recently in 2015. Team USA took bronze in 2007 and didn't medal in 2011. Lithuania had won the previous three World Deaf Basketball Championships (2007, '11, '15).

Team USA Results
07/06: USA 105, Lithuania 77 (Gold Medal)
07/04: USA 91, Russia 76 (Semifinal)
07/03: USA 105, Spain 55 (Quarterfinal)
06/29: USA 93, Japan 41
06/28: USA 69, Greece 53

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