July 26, 2013
TALLINN, Estonia --- UConn rising sophomore forward Phillip Nolan (Milwaukee, Wis.) scored four points, including two key free throws with under one minute to play, to help the East Coast All-Stars post a narrow 71-68 victory Thursday over Belarus in the opening game of the 2013 Four Nations Cup.
Nolan also added four rebounds in more than 14 minutes of play as East Coast rallied behind the leadership of Louisville’s Russ Smith to outscore Belarus, 26-11, in the fourth quarter and record the come-from-behind victory. Smith finished with 29 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.
East Coast will next meet Slovakia, then take on the Estonian National Team before the competition ends this weekend. The American team is coached by Lycoming College coach Guy Rancourt.
East Coast had some difficulty adapting to the FIBA style of basketball, especially the way fouls were called, as well as the farther three-point distance, and fell behind by as many as 57-45 by the end of the third quarter.
“It’s crazy,” the 6-9 Nolan said. “It was hard to adjust.”
But Smith led the fourth-quarter charge that finally put East Coast in front and the Americans held on to get the win. Providence’s Kadeem Batts added nine points, while West Virginia’s Eron Harris, Northern Colorado’s Tate Unruh, and Notre Dame’s Tom Knight each scored eight for the All-Stars.
The team has had an outstanding experience in Eastonia, learning about the country’s traditions while on a guided tour on Tuesday, then touring Tallinn’s famed Old Town on Wednesday.
Tuesday night, the team played an exhibition game in Parnu, Estonia, in front of 225 local children, falling to the hometown Rapla BBC, 85-77. Smith led the Americans with 18 points, while Nolan contributed four points, four rebounds, and two blocked shots.