USA U17 Men Hold Off Australia 99-92, Capture Third-Straight FIBA U17 World Championship Gold Medal
-- Tournament MVP Malik Newman Joined On All-Tournament Team By Diamond Stone --
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Behind 21 points and 11 rebounds from tournament MVP Malik Newman (Callaway H.S./Jackson, Miss.), the 2014 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship Team (7-0) held off Australia (5-2) 99-92 to claim the gold medal on Saturday night at the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Three-time FIBA U17 World Championship gold medalists, the USA now has a perfect 23-0 record at the U17s. Fans who missed the game live on ESPN3 today can catch the replay tonight (10 p.m. EDT) on ESPNU/Watch ESPN.
Newman was joined on the FIBA U17 World Championship All-Tournament Team by teammate Diamond Stone(Dominican H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.), Australia’s Isaac Humphries and Dejan Vasiljevic, and Serbia’s Nikola Rakicevic. In earning MVP honors, Newman joins an elite group that includes 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship MVP Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards and Duke University freshman Jahlil Okafor, the 2012 U17 MVP.
Serbia (6-1) earned the bronze medal after a narrow 62-59 victory over Spain (3-4).
“How many 3s can they make in the last two minutes to keep the game close,” asked USA head coach Don Showalter(Iowa City H.S., Iowa), who now owns an overall 23-0 win-loss record in FIBA U17 World Championship games and also piloted the 2010 and 2012 USA U17 teams to gold. “They’re a team that just doesn’t quit. They have a lot of pride. We played them two years ago in the gold medal game as well. So, from that standpoint I knew they would never, never give up. We found that out last night against Spain when they came back from a 22-point deficit in the first half. They did a great job of that. So, our kids didn’t overlook them. We knew we were going to get their best shot.”
“It felt great,” said Newman after being named MVP. “We had a lot of players who played tremendous at this camp, so for those guys to think that I won the MVP was just an honor.
“Brad Beal, he’s an all-star in the NBA,” Newman added. “And Jahlil, he’ll be an all-star in the NBA also. For me to be mentioned with those guys is an honor and a blessing at the same time.”
In a battle from the beginning the USA scored first, but Australia quickly jumped to a 7-4 lead. Newman tied the score with his first 3-pointer of the night at 7:21 in the first quarter. However, Australia strung together a 10-0 run, capped by a pair of 3s from Vasiljevic, who ended the night hitting 6-of-14 from beyond the arc, and the U.S. was looking at its first double-digit deficit of the tournament, 17-7, at 5:31.
There was no panic by the Americans as Newman calmly scored seven points in a 11-3 run to pull the reins back to 20-18 with 3:06 left in the first quarter.
“The team, they labeled me as the leader, so if they see me panicking then they have the right to panic,” said Newman. “So, I tried to stay calm and stay focused and just play our game. I happened to get going at the time, so coach told me to keep playing my game. My team just told me that if I’m feeling it, to just shoot it. For those guys to believe in me and for the coaching staff to believe in me, that took a lot. I just had to go out there and play. The team, they really helped me. They got big stops, they scored when they were supposed to. They just did everything they were supposed to do.”
From there the teams remained close and the lead swapped twice more with Australia holding a 27-26 edge with 12.7 seconds left on the clock. Tyus Battle (Gill St. Bernard’s School/ Edison, N.J.), however, found the net with three seconds remaining to close the first period and put the red, white and blue up for good, 28-27.
While the Americans never again trailed, each time they pulled away Australia fought back, usually with at least one 3-pointer. In fact, with the United States holding a 10-point lead late in the first half, Australia sunk its third trey of the half and headed into the locker room trailing 50-43.
Australia came out of the half on a 10-6 spurt, which included a pair of 3s, and the USA’s lead was down to four, 56-52, at6:56. Josh Jackson (Consortium College Prep H.S./ Southfield, Mich.) got a steal and a layin, to spark a 9-0 run in which he also dished out an assist and got a put-back, and the U.S. was back up in double digits, 65-52, with 15 minutes to play in the game.
“I just knew that energy and hustle were two things that I had to do for us to come out with the win,” said Jackson. “So, I just tried my best to do what I had to do.
The teams battled through the remainder of the third quarter and with 10 minutes to play the USA’s advantage was at 10, 74-64.
Expanding its lead to 15 points mid-way through the fourth quarter after a pair of buckets from Ivan Rabb (Bishop O’Dowd H.S./ Oakland, Calif.) and a traditional 3-point play by Jackson, the Americans looked like it was putting some distance between them and the Australians.
Australia, which came back from a 22-point deficit in its semifinal game to take an overtime victory against Spain, had hopes of another comeback. Getting points from four different players, including another 3-pointer from Vasiljevic, the USA’s advantage was cut to six points, 88-82, with 2:25 to play.
The USA expanded its lead back to 10 points, 92-82, at 1:22, but Australia began launching 3-pointers, three of which hit their mark and with 30.1 seconds left the USA led a 96-91 edge.
Newman fouled an Aussie on a 3-point attempt, but Tom Wilson made just the third to give Australia its final points of the game. Australia attempted two more from beyond the arc, but one was blocked by Jackson and the other was off the mark. From there the silver medalists were forced to foul to stop the clock and the United States came away with the win.
“Our kids hung together,” said Showalter. “We had some really good play again off the bench. Jayson Tatum came in and did a great job for us. We got different help every night from our bench. I’ve always said that you put our five starters against the five starters from Australia, Serbia or Spain, it’s going to be a really close game. But our bench, our seven guys who come off the bench is kind of what separates us, and it really did tonight.”
In addition to Newman, the Americans were helped offensively by Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.), who scored 15 points and had five rebounds; while Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.), who had six boards, and Jackson, who had seven rebounds and two blocked shots, each chipped in 13 points. Stone scored nine points and hauled in eight boards.
Vasiljevic was the game’s high scorer with 29 points and Wilson scored 23.
Australia shot a sizzling 44.0 percent (11-25 3pt FGs) from 3-point, while the U.S. made just 2-of-15. As has been the case the entire tournament, the USA outrebounded its opponent, this time with a 57-31 advantage on the glass. The USA also outscored Australia 24-4 on second chances, 20-14 points off turnovers and had a strong showing from the bench with a 42-17 scoring advantage.
“Brad Beal is in the NBA and he’s one of the top guards in the NBA right now and in 2010 he was the MVP and was just a great kid, a lot like Malik, a good leader,” added Showalter when asked to compare the three. “Then Jahlil Okafor was (MVP two years ago and he’s probably going to be in the NBA obviously for a long time as well. So, I think Malik falls right in that category with those two guys. It’s really good to see Malik step up. Sometimes kids this age defer a little bit, but there was no deferring with Malik tonight.”
In classification play Puerto Rico (6-1) edged Canada (4-3) for fifth place, China (3-4) fended off France (3-4) 87-79 for seventh place, Italy (5-2) finished in ninth place after clipping Argentina (4-3) 66-62, Angola (3-4) prevailed over Greece (4-3) 59-51 for 11th place, Egypt (2-5) took 13th place after earning a 68-53 victory over Japan (1-6), while the Philippines (1-6) got its first win with a dominating 115-51 performance over host UAE (0-7) for 15th place.
Players eligible for this competition must be citizens of the country they represent and have been born on or after Jan. 1, 1997.
Joining Showalter on the sideline as USA assistant coaches are Eric Flannery (St. Edward High School, Ohio) and L.J. Goolsby (KC Run GMC, Kan.).
2010 was the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship for Men. The USA captured gold with a perfect 8-0 record and in 2012 Okafor was joined on the all-tournament team by Justise Winslow as the U.S. again rolled up a perfect 8-0 slate en route to gold.
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.
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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.
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