USA U16 Men Open FIBA Americas U16 Championship With 105-70 Victory Over Brazil
June 21, 2011 • Cancun, Mexico
Behind 27 points and 10 rebounds from Jabari Parker (Simeon H.S. / Chicago, Ill.), the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team capitalized on a 22-3 second-quarter scoring spree to open FIBA Americas U16 Championship play with a blazing 105-70 win over Brazil on Tuesday night at Poliforum Benito Juarez in Cancun, Mexico.
Parker, who hit 9-of-10 from the field, 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, 7-of-9 from the line and notched four steals, collected his stats in just 20 minutes of action. Also aiding in the attack were Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.) with 19 points, Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S. / Fullerton, Calif.) scored 14 and Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S. / San Jose, Calif.) pitched in 11 points.
“It’s good to get the first game out of the way,” said USA U16 National Team head coach Don Showalter (Mid-Prairie High School, Iowa). “We knew (Brazil was) going to be really good competition. They play basketball very hard. So, getting started the right way really was a big factor for us tonight. We jumped out, played great defense, got some easy baskets in transition. I think you look at our point total and most of them came in the lane off of transition. That’s what we wanted to do. In the second half we probably didn’t play quite as sharp as we needed to be in order to extend that lead, but overall I was pretty pleased with the game.”
Trailing 5-4 early, the U.S. got eight straight points from Parker, sparking a 14-2 run that was capped by a Parker fast-break dunk off of a Tyus Jones (Apple Valley H.S. / Apple Valley, Minn.) steal and assist. By the end of the run, which spanned fewer than a two minutes, the USA had its first double-digit lead of the night, 18-8, with 5:47 to play in the first quarter. The USA closed out the first stanza on an 8-0 run and at the first quarter break, Parker had 18 points and the U.S. was ahead 33-19.
The second quarter was opened by Brazil’s Fernando Andrade, who scored two points at 9:26. That ended up being Brazil’s final field goal in the first half. The USA’s stifling defense held Brazil to a single point over the remainder of the quarter as its offense reeled off 33 points to take a commanding 55-22 lead at the midway break.
“We get on a roll, we get some steals and our defense dictates our offense,” said Showalter. “They tried to press us a little bit in the second quarter and we took advantage of the press. I would venture to say that most teams are going to have a hard time pressing us. If they do press us, we need to take advantage of it like we did tonight.”
In the second half the USA eased up and at one stretch Brazil strung together 11 unanswered points, but the red, white and blue recovered and sailed in for the 35-point win.
“We were up by like 30 at halftime and everybody pretty much thought we were in a zone, that we had it, that we were better than them,” said Okafor. “We need to work on that next time.”
Parker’s 27 points eclipsed the USA’s mark of 24 set in the first edition of this tournament two years ago by Brad Beal and came within five points of tying the overall tournament record of 34 set by Gary Ramirez of Puerto Rico in 2009. He also tied Beal’s single-game USA U16 record of field goals made (9).
“I just felt in the zone,” stated Parker. “Once I got it, I felt very aggressive. My teammates were feeding me out on the wing and I was able to finish. Nobody told me about (breaking the record). Once you’re in the zone, you don’t recognize anything. I’m very thankful and very honored to have that achievement.”
Larry Austin (Lamphier H.S. / Springfield, Ill.) also posted a new U.S. record for steals at the event with five. The previous mark of three was achieved four different times by a USA player in 2009.
The USA shot 52.9 percent (37-70 FGs) from the field, getting 60 points from the paint, and held Brazil to just 43.3 percent (26-60 FGs). The U.S. squad’s defensive effort also produced 21 steals on 30 Brazil turnovers as the USA’s record for single-game steals also went down. The 2009 USA U16 team had 15 in a single game. The USA outrebounded Brazil 46-37.
Brazil was led by Luis Maya, who scored 16 points, and Lucas Silva with 13.
Theo Pinson (Oakridge Military Academy / Greensboro, N.C.) did not play due to a minor right ankle sprain and is listed as day-to-day.
In other Group B action, Argentina (1-0) downed Costa Rica (0-1) 130-28. Group A games saw Canada (1-0) cruise past Chile (0-1) 96-51 and in the closest game of the day Puerto Rico (1-0) defeated host Mexico (0-1) 78-68.
The U.S. continues play on June 22 against Argentina (7:00 p.m. EDT) and will cap preliminary round play against Costa Rica on June 23 (3:00 p.m. EDT). Semifinals are slated for June 24 and the finals will be played on June 25.
The FIBA Americas U16 Championship runs through June 25 and is a qualifying tournament for the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship. The top three finishing teams from FIBA Americas will advance to next summer’s U17 Worlds, scheduled for June 29 - July 12 in Lithuania.
Players eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens born on or after Jan. 1, 1995.
Showalter is being assisted over the next two years by Rich Gray (St. Louis Eagles AAU, Mo.) and Mike Jones (DeMatha High School, Md.).