Jun 22, 2014 1:01 AM by Posted by Greg Smith
In another well-rounded team effort that saw eight players score eight or more points, including five in double digits, the 2014 USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team (2-0) outgunned Mexico (0-2) 100-46 at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Saturday night at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The win secured the USA a berth in the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship as the top four finishing teams at the U18s qualify for next summer's U19 Worlds.
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S./Fullerton, Calif.) paced the U.S. attack with 18 points, Allonzo Trier (Montrose Christian/Seattle, Wash.) and Justise Winslow (St. John's School/Houston, Texas) scored 14 apiece, Jalen Brunson (Adlai E. Stevenson H.S./Lincolnshire, Ill.) added 11 and Chase Jeter (Bishop Gorman H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) was one board shy of a double-double after scoring 10 points and hauling in nine rebounds. Additionally, Isaiah Briscoe (Roselle Catholic H.S./Union, N.J.), who grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, Luke Kennard (Franklin H.S./Franklin, Ohio) and Stephen Zimmerman (Bishop Gorman H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) chipped in eight points apiece.
"This was good right now because everything against Uruguay went our way from start to finish, and this is a game when we're up, and Mexico, give them credit, kept battling, kept fighting," said USA U18 National Team and University of Florida head coach Billy Donovan, whose USA Basketball head coaching record now stands at 16-0. "It's one of those things where you're playing defense and you sit back down there and it really can play into your hands if you handle it the right way. We had some breakdowns defensively in the third quarter, but in the fourth we did a good job."
Focusing on Mexico's 3-point shooting, which hit for 33.3 percent (12-36 3pt FGs) in its first game against Argentina, the North Americans held their neighbors to the south to a mere 14.3 percent (3-21 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc.
"Uruguay took, I think, 36 3-point shots last night and today we limited Mexico to 21, so we really didn't let them get going from the 3-point line," added Donovan. "I thought we rebounded the ball very, very well; they pretty much played zone, which was fine. I thought we did a good job moving the basketball and on the offensive glass. I thought overall, from a defensive standpoint and making them (Mexico) take a lot of tough shots, we did a good job."
The USA trailed for just 40 seconds and with the game knotted at 4-4, Winslow scored six points in an 11-0 run that opened a 15-6 gap at 5:38. Following a 4-2 spurt by Mexico, the red, white and blue closed the first quarter with nine unanswered points to go up 26-9.
Mexico made an attempt to break the USA's pressure defense and slow its fast breaking offense, but simply didn't have the depth to keep up the pace and the USA closed out the second quarter on a 15-0 run. Holding Mexico to a single field goal in the second quarter, the Americans headed to the locker room with the game well in hand, 56-13. In the second quarter the USA's defense forced 10 turnovers, resulting in 10 points, and held Mexico to a frigid 8 percent (1-12 FGs) from the field.
"I think we came out with a lot of energy and intensity from the beginning," said Winslow, who had seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and a pair of blocks to go with his 14 points. "The press really frustrated them and in the second half we backed off the pressure a little bit and focused on our half-court defense because that's going to be a point of emphasis for our next game against Argentina. We just came out, we competed, shared the ball and we got a big win."
Mexico was able to keep pace in the third quarter and in fact outscored the USA 23-21 during that period. However, the USA buckled down again in the fourth, outscored Mexico 23-10 and walked off the court with its second victory in as many days.
After missing its first six shots from beyond the arc to start the game, the USA hit for 42.9 percent (6-14 3pt FGs) from afar after Kennard scored the team's first 3-pointer late in the first quarter.
All 11 available members of the team had points on the board once Tyler Lydon (New Hampton School/ Elizaville, N.Y.) scored his first bucket with 4:02 remaining in the third period.
Tyus Jones (Apple Valley H.S./Apple Valley, Minn.) dished out five of the USA's 19 assists, while Briscoe and Winslow were credited with four apiece.
Myles Turner (Trinity H.S./Bedford, Texas) swatted four of the USA's eight blocks and now has eight over the team's two-game span. The USA U18 competition record is 13 and he is on pace to equal or better that mark.
"I play for my personal best and my team's personal best," said Johnson, who had 10 of his 18 points in the first half. "Every time I do my personal best, I can score 40 points, and still not be satisfied. It causes a hunger for the game and if I start doing that it will be contagious and that's beneficial for the team."
Overall the USA outrebounded Mexico 50-29, earned 22 points off of Mexico's 22 turnovers and notched 12 steals. The USA outscored Mexico 66-22 in the paint, 18-0 on second chances, 24-9 on the fast break and 47-7 off the bench.
Further, the USA's high-octane offense shot 56.2 percent (41-73 FGs) from the floor, while its defense held Mexico to just 22.6 percent (14-62 FGs) shooting on the night.
Jaylen Brown (Wheeler H.S./Alpharetta, Ga.) was sick and did not play.
The USA concludes preliminary round play against Argentina (2-0) on June 22 (5:30 p.m. MDT / 7:30 EDT). The semifinals are scheduled for June 23 and the finals will be held June 24. All games are being streamed live online at fibaamericas.com and YouTube.com/FIBAAmericas. Not only is a gold medal at stake in this tournament, but the top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship.
"They always have a good system," Donovan added regarding Argentina. "They're going to move and pass the basketball; they're going to run their offense, and they do a good job. I think for us, we have to get back to our style of play and get the game going up and down. We've got to try to get pressure and take them out, because when they get on their half-court, they do a nice job executing and screening."
In the other Group B contest today Argentina defeated Uruguay (0-2) 67-55 and also punched its ticket to the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship. In Group A, Puerto Rico (1-1) held off Brazil (0-2) 80-75 and Canada (2-0) defeated Dominican Republic (1-1) 79-67.
Joining Donovan on the sideline as USA assistant coaches are collegiate head coaches Ed Cooley of Providence College and Sean Miller of the University of Arizona.
FIBA Americas U18 Championship
Originally known as the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifier, the tournament was held every four years between 1990-2006. FIBA changed its calendar following the 2006 championship and the tournament is now conducted every other year, followed in the next summer by the FIBA U19 World Championship.
USA men's teams are now 45-2 in the U18 / Junior World Championship Qualifiers and have won gold in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2012, while capturing silver in 2008 and bronze in 2002.
Some of the top players to have suited up for the USA in the U18 zone championship include: Shareef Abdur-Rahim (1994); Carmelo Anthony (2002); Michael Beasley (2006); Chris Bosh (2002); Dee Brown (2002); Nick Collison (1998); Jonny Flynn (2006); Spencer Hawes (2006); Grant Hill (1990); Allan Houston (1990); Andre Iguodala (2002); Kyrie Irving (2010); Stephon Marbury (1994); Mike Miller (1998); Quentin Richardson (1998); Austin Rivers (2010); Kyle Singler (2006); Marcus Smart (2012); Jarnell Stokes (2012); Rasheed Sulaimon (2012); Kemba Walker (2008); and Deron Williams (2002).
Competing against the USA at the U18s have been notable internationals such as: Leandro Barbosa (Brazil) in 1994; Jose Barea (Puerto Rico) in 2002; Gregory Echenique (Venezuela) in 2008; Juan Fernandez (Argentina) in 2008; Todd MacCulloch (Canada) in 1994; Jamal Magloire (Canada) in 1994; Raul Neto (Brazil) in 2010; Peter Ramos (Puerto Rico) in 2002; Luis Scola (Argentina) in 1998; Tiago Splitter (Brazil) in 2002; Andrew Wiggins (Canada) in 2012; and Jesse Young (Canada) in 1998.
Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA Basketball, chaired by Jerry Colangelo, is a nonprofit organization and the national governing body for men's and women's basketball in the United States. As the recognized governing body for basketball in the U.S. by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Basketball is responsible for the selection, training and fielding of USA teams that compete in FIBA-sponsored international competitions, as well as for some national competitions.
During the 2009-12 quadrennium, 1,273 male and female players and 235 coaches participated in USA Basketball, including USA Basketball teams and trials, and USA Basketball 3x3 FIBA?championships.
USA Basketball men's and women's teams between 2009-12 compiled an impressive 262-35 win-loss record in FIBA and FIBA Americas competitions, the Pan American Games, the World University Games, the Nike Hoop Summit and in exhibition games.
USA teams are the current men's and women's champions in the Olympics; men's and women's FIBA World Championships (Basketball World Cup); men's and women's FIBA?U19 and U17 World Championships; men's and women's U18 and U16 FIBA Americas Championships; the FIBA?3x3 Women's World Championship; and the FIBA?3x3 Women's U18 World Championship. USA Basketball currently ranks No. 1 in all five of FIBA's world-ranking categories, including combined, men's, women's, boys and girls.
For further information about USA Basketball, go to the official Web site of USA Basketball at www.usab.com and connect with us on facebook.com/usabasketball, twitter.com/usabasketball, plus.google.com/+usabasketball, instagram.com/usabasketball and youtube.com/usab.