USA U16 Men Overpower Smaller Costa Rican Squad 118-46
June 23, 2011 • Cancun, Mexico
Conner Frankamp (Wichita North H.S. / Wichita, Kan.) scored a team-high 22 points and Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S. / San Jose, Calif.) barely missed out on a quadruple-double as the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team (3-0) cruised past Costa Rica (0-3) 118-46 at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship on Thursday afternoon at Poliforum Benito Juarez in Cancun, Mexico.
The U.S., top seed advancing out of Group B, will face Canada, the No. 2 team advancing out of Group A in Friday’s medal semifinals (7:00 p.m. EDT on www.fibaamericas.com) for the right to play for the gold medal on Saturday night.
Frankamp, who struggled with his shooting in the USA’s first two games, found his stroke and netted 10-of-13 from the field, 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and missed a double-double by one assist. Gordon filled the stat sheet with 18 points, 18 rebounds, a FIBA Americas U16 Championship and USA record eight blocked shots and he, along with Frankamp, dished out a USA and U16 tournament record nine assists.
“I wasn’t even thinking about any of my stat lines, not rebounding, shot blocking, scoring, I wasn’t thinking about any of it,” said Gordon. “I was just trying to help my team win. They weren’t the greatest team, so I think I need to take what I did in this game and use it as a lead-in to our semifinal game tomorrow night and help my team by getting the same stats.”
“Watching Costa Rica in their first two games I knew that talent-wise, we’re superior, we’re taller and more athletic,” said USA U16 National Team head coach Don Showalter (Mid-Prairie High School, Iowa). “But, we want to get the point across to our kids that we’re preparing for the next two games. We didn’t press except for the first couple of minutes of the game. We worked a lot on our defense and I think our kids responded really well. We still played hard and did the things we wanted to do to play better.”
USA vs. Costa Rica
Every healthy U.S. player scored, including seven in double digits as Kendrick Nunn (Simeon H.S. / Chicago, Ill.) pitched in 12 points, Theo Pinson (Oakridge Military Academy / Greensboro, N.C.) scored 11 and grabbed 10 boards; while Larry Austin (Lanphier H.S. / Springfield, Ill.), Dom Collier (Denver East H.S. / Denver, Colo.) and Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.) added 10 points apiece.
The USA started off against Costa Rica, which lost its first two games by a combined 141 points, on a 35-0 run over the first 14:02 of the contest. By the time Costa Rica got its first field goal, a 3-pointer with 2:38 to play before halftime, the game was well in hand, 48-4. At the midway break the USA’s lead was 59-7.
Costa Rica, which lists its four tallest players as standing at 6-1, played closer in the second half, but never seriously threatened as the U.S. took its third win in as many days.
“Every team in this tournament has a good heart,” said Gordon. “Everyone wants to play. Everyone has pride for their country and I know that no matter how long a game goes or how out of reach it gets, they’re going to keep playing.”
“I just felt a little more confident tonight once I got in more,” said Frankamp, who had 16 points at halftime. “I was off the first two games. I’m finally glad to get my shot back, get it going again.”
Playing in just the second edition of this tournament, it was anticipated that several U.S. team records would be broken. However, a number of overall tournament marks were reset by the USA against Costa Rica. In addition to Frankamp and Gordon sharing the new assists mark, eclipsing the former mark of eight set six different times; and Gordon’s new blocked shots record, which surpassed the six recorded by Puerto Rico’s Pellot Valentin in 2009; the team established three new records today. The 53 field goals made bettered the 2009 USA U16’s mark of 52 set against Canada; the 35 assists surpassed Argentina’s 23 set against the Bahamas in 2009; while the previous blocked shot record of 12, set by the 2009 USA U16 squad against Puerto Rico, fell today as the U.S. team swatted 22.
The U.S., in addition to outrebounding Costa Rica 66-35, held its opponent to shooting just 21.3 percent (17-80 FGs) from the field, while connecting on 59.6 percent (53-89 FGs) on the offensive end. The red, white and blue scored 25 points off of 18 turnovers, notched 92 points in the paint and had 59 fast-break points.
“Coach said it best, we have to respect them,” said Justin Jackson (Home School Christian Youth Association / Houston, Texas), who had eight points and six boards, on the difficulty of keeping up the intensity after getting a large lead. “We have to play them like it’s a championship game against one of the best teams. Obviously it’s hard, but we strive to think of them as one of the best teams so that we still come out and play hard.”
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S. / Fullerton, Calif.) suffered a fracture-dislocation of his left second metacarpal at 4:03 in the first quarter of the USA’s game against Argentina on June 23 and will not play the remainder of the tournament.
In today’s second Group B game, Argentina (2-1) defeated Brazil (1-2) 85-77. Group A games saw Puerto Rico (3-0) advance to the medal semifinals as Group A’s top seed with an 80-55 victory over Chile (1-2), while Canada (2-1) downed host Mexico (0-3) 88-56.
The FIBA Americas U16 Championship 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.).