Airman named MVP, helps Team USA win gold

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Steve Bauer
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
An Airman stationed here contributed to Team USA's gold medal finish at the 2010 SHAPE International Basketball Tournament on Dec. 4 in Mons, Belgium. Team USA is the U.S. armed forces basketball team.

Second Lt. Mathew Holland, an intelligence analyst assigned to the 614th Air and Space Operations Center here, was selected to compete with Team USA at the tournament after his performance, and off-court professionalism, at an armed forces tournament in August in Washington, D.C.

After being released from duty, Lieutenant Holland joined the team in an eight-day training camp at Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany, to prepare for the tournament.

At the tournament, Lieutenant Holland and Team USA competed against military squads from Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The first two games of the tournament were earned with ease, as Team USA defeated Italy 95-59 Nov. 30 and the United Kingdom 103-62 Dec. 1.

Stiffer competition came as Team USA faced off against Latvia Dec. 3. Lieutenant Holland contributed to the U.S. team with 22 points and 12 rebounds as the team beat Latvia 83-70. The win put the U.S. team in the title game against Lithuania.

During the championship game between the U.S. and Lithuania Dec. 4, both teams battled back and forth for the lead, but Team USA defeated Lithuania 78-71. Lieutenant Holland had 14 points, helping Team USA win its first international basketball tournament since 2004.

At the conclusion of the championship game, Lieutenant Holland was unanimously voted as the tournament's most valuable player.

"It was an amazing feeling," Lieutenant Holland said. "I was honored to be able to represent the United States, the military and the Air Force as a whole. Being selected for the team took dedication, but as I've learned from my parents, hard work and persistence pays off."

Lieutenant Holland played two years of Division I basketball at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.

"Wearing the letters (USA) on my jersey while playing overseas was probably my favorite basketball memory," he said. "I am really hoping to be able to do this in the future."

The next armed forces tournament is in July in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.