GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Hoping to win the gold medal at the Pan American Games for the first time since 1983, the United States men's basketball team hung on for a 77-76 win Wednesday over the Dominican Republic.
The Americans led 77-74 in the Group B game before Manuel Guzman scored to cut the lead to one point with 4.6 seconds to go. Guzman then had a chance to tie it up by converting the three-point play, but he missed the free throw.
The Dominicans kept possession and had one more chance to score with 1.4 seconds to go, but Marcus Lewis blocked the last-gasp shot by Jack Michael Martinez, who led the Dominicans with 31 points and 10 rebounds.
"I knew they were going to 15 (Martinez) and I knew he was either going to use a pump fake or try and shake me off one way," Lewis said. "I just kept my hand up there and when he jumped for the jumper I got all ball. That was a pretty big play."
Lewis also blocked another key shot late in the game.
"I know that's why I mostly here, for defense," he said.
Lance Thomas led the United States with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Thomas, who was on Duke's 2010 national championship team, plays in the NBA D-League with the Austin Toros.
"It was a close one," Thomas said. "In the second half we had to fight because we gave up an eight-point lead and knew we had to pressure the ball and make big plays."
United States coach Nate Tibbets blamed the near-loss on nerves.
"We had first game jitters," Tibbets said. "Guys were trying to do things a little bit on their own, but when we play as a team we're a good team."
The United States next faces Brazil while the Dominicans play Uruguay.