2014 USA 3x3 National Championship
Colorado Springs, Colo.
May 9-11
2014 USA 3x3 National Championship
Colorado Springs, Colo.
May 9-11

2013 USA Basketball U16 Men Overcome Slow Start, Surge Past Puerto Rico 93-64 And Into The Gold Medal Game

Maldonado, Uruguay • June 14, 2013

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Despite a sluggish first quarter, which saw the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team (4-0) trail for the first time in four games, the U.S. regrouped and surged past Puerto Rico (2-2) 93-64 and into the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship gold medal game on Friday night in Maldonado, Uruguay.

In the other medal semifinal, Argentina (3-1) knocked off Canada (3-1) 65-64 in overtime for the right to compete for the gold medal against the USA at 6 p.m. (5 p.m EDT). All games will be streamed live online at FIBAAmericas.com. Puerto Rico and Canada will clash for the bronze at 3 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT).

Ivan Rabb (Bishop O’Dowd H.S. / Oakland, Calif.) and Diamond Stone (Dominican H.S. / Milwaukee, Wis.) scored 19 points apiece to lead the U.S. squad. Also contributing double-digit scoring efforts were Josh Jackson (Consortium College Prep / Southfield, Mich.) and Thomas Bryant (Bishop Kearney H.S. / Rochester, N.Y.), who pitched in 13 and 11 points, respectively. Further, Rabb notched the game’s only double-double, finishing with 14, including nine off the offensive glass.

The USA has advanced to all three FIBA Americas U16 Championship gold medal games, defeating Argentina in 2009 (101-87) and 2011 (104-64) for gold, while rolling up a combined 14-0 record.

“We knew Puerto Rico was going to play that way,” said USA U16 head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa). “Give them a lot of credit. They have the makings of being a pretty good team, I don’t think they have the depth, but they have guys who can make shots. We kept thinking that they’re not going to shoot a lot of threes tonight and they shot 24 threes. They shot 24 over their first three games.”

In unfamiliar territory of being on the low end of the scoreboard, the U.S. never panicked. After leading from wire-to-wire in its first three games, the Americans fell behind 5-0 in the early part of the game. Jackson got the team on the board at 8:08 off a feed from Seventh Woods (Hammond School / Columbia, S.C.), who had a team-high four assists.

“I think they came out like 5-0, but it happens,” said Rabb. “It’s just basketball. Everybody’s going to make a push. We pushed back and came out with the win tonight.”

Following a bucket on the other end, Stone got a put-back and Malik Newman (Callaway H.S. / Jackson, Miss.) hit a jumper to kick-start a 13-4 run that put the U.S. in front 15-11 at 4:51. However, Puerto Rico wouldn’t back down and from there the lead swapped hands twice before Showalter called for a time-out after the U.S. sent Puerto Rico to the line at 2:30. Getting back on the court after the time-out, the islanders made both free throws and earned their final lead of the game, 18-17, at 2:30.

“We came out sluggish at first, maybe thought they were just going to give us the game,”said Jayson Tatum(Chaminade College Prep / St. Louis, Mo.), who grabbed six rebounds. “So, coach talked to us and we picked it up offensively and defensively, especially rebounding.”

 V.J. King(St. Vincent - St. Mary H.S. / Akron, Ohio) tied the game at 1:24 after he made the back end of a pair from the stripe. Then, with 36 seconds left in the first quarter, King missed a 3-pointer, but was quick to grab his own rebound and go in for two points to give the U.S. the lead for good, 20-18. Rabb got a layup with 11 seconds on the clock and the Americans closed the first quarter up 22-18.

Picking up right where they left off, the U.S. continued to stymie Puerto Rico’s scoring efforts, while reeling off 17 unanswered points to claim a commanding 39-18 lead. Puerto Rico finally ended its scoring drought, which started in the first quarter and lasted 9:16, with 3:14 remaining in the half. However, the U.S. matched Puerto Rico nearly point for point and at halftime the advantage was 47-25.

Six different players scored during the run, including Rabb, who notched eight of the USA’s first 10 points of the second quarter and grabbed five boards during that time, including three on the offensive end.

After outscoring Puerto Rico 26-19 in the third quarter, the U.S. eased up in the fourth quarter for the eventual 29-point victory.

In addition to Rabb’s 14 boards, King and Stone grabbed eight rebounds apiece, while Bryant had seven.

Ivan Gandia Rosa scored a game-high 21 points to lead his side. The U.S. held Puerto Rico’s leading rebounders Gerardo Texeira, who averaged 12.7 rebounds in his first three games, and Arnaldo Toro, 11.7 rpg. over three games, to just one and nine rebounds, respectively.

“It was rebounding,” Stone said he thought was second quarter game-changer. “Going into the game, No. 9 (Toro) had 23 rebounds in one game, No. 15 (Texeira) had 19 one game, so we just had to get them off the glass. In the first quarter they were getting rebounds, but in the second quarter it changed up and we were getting more rebounds.”

After losing the first-quarter battle on the boards 17-15, the U.S. closed the game with a 68-37 advantage on the glass.

“I know they were focusing on the glass, so I wanted to take that away from them,” said Rabb. “I wanted to hit the offensive glass, so they wouldn’t get as many defensive rebounds and I wanted to get the defensive rebounds so they couldn’t get the offensive rebounds. It worked out pretty well. I came out with 14 rebounds and tomorrow I just want to do the same thing for the gold medal game, take all the rebounds away from the other team.”

Also impressive was a 68-26 scoring advantage in the paint and 28-8 off of second chances. The Americans also converted Puerto Rico’s 24 turnovers into 26 points, and while the USA coughed up the ball 20 times, the American U16 squad only gave up 12 points from its miscues.

In classification semifinals, host Uruguay (1-3) picked up its first win with a 72-66 victory over Bahamas (1-3) and Chile (2-2) beat Mexico (0-4) 72-64. Bahamas and Mexico will play for seventh place, while Uruguay will go up against Chile for fifth place.

Assisting Showalter and the 2013-14 USA Developmental National Team are Eric Flannery (St. Edward High School, Ohio) and L.J. Goolsby (KC Run GMC, Kan.).

Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy / Winston-Salem, N.C.) suffered a left knee sprain during the USA’s second game and is sidelined for the remainder of the tournament.