CATANIA, Sicily — Team USA captured a 77-70 victory over Lithuania in the men’s basketball opener Thursday of the 3rd World Military Games.
Craig Marcelin, a soldier stationed at Heidelberg, Germany, scored 19 points and Jelani Nix, a Marine at Cherry Point Air Station, N.C., added 10 to power the Americans. Lithuania rallied to tie it 31-31 in the second quarter, but the United States pulled ahead to stay from that point on.
The teams play by international rules, which permit more physical contact than college or the NBA.
Team USA, made up of players selected to the All-Armed Forces squad, demonstrated strong teamwork despite having six rookies on its 12-member roster and having only a month of practice.
“That’s what is great about all of us being in the military,” Marcelin said. “We don’t have to work on discipline. It doesn’t matter what service we are in. We have it.”
There are 16 teams divided into four pools in the men’s basketball competition. The top two finishers in each pool move on to the medal round.
Earlier Thursday, 2,800 athletes from 86 countries paraded around the track at Massimo di Cibali Stadium during the opening ceremony of the World Military Games, sponsored by the Brussels-based International Military Sports Council (CISM).