Mens U18 National Team Claims 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship
Colorado Springs, Colorado
In its toughest game of the tournament, the 2014 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team (5-0) remained perfect with a convincing 113-79 victory over Canada (4-1) to claim the 2014 FIBA Americas Championship gold medal on Tuesday night at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The USA upped its record at the zone championship to 48-2 and has now medaled in every U18 competition, having won seven gold medals (1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2014), while capturing silver in 2008 and bronze in 2002.
The three USA team captains, Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S./Fullerton, Calif.), who was named MVP of the tournament, Tyus Jones (Apple Valley H.S./Apple Valley, Minn.) and Justise Winslow (St. John’s School/Houston, Texas), all of whom had previously won two gold medals on USA Basketball teams, combined for 47 points, 17 rebounds, nine assists and six steals.
“I’m just honored,” said USA U18 National Team and University of Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who also led the 2012 USA U18 team and 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team to gold and owns a USA Basketball head coaching record of 19-0. “I think that as a coach in this kind of event, you’re only as good as your players. I’ve been very fortunate that in he past three years, I’ve coached some great guys, great kids and have had some great coaches working with me. These guys were unbelievable to deal with. The bought in, they listened and they’re the ones who really played well. I’m just happy I could be a part of it and be taken along for the ride.”
“It’s a team honor, really,” said Johnson, who scored 12 of his 19 points in the first half, on winning MVP honors. “Anybody on the team could have gotten it; what’s more important is winning the gold medal and all of us playing hard to get it.
“It’s a great experience; it’s my third time doing it,” added Johnson, who finished averaging a USA-best 14.0 points and 5.4 rebounds a game. “Every team is different, every situation is different and it’s all been really good. Now we’re older and a lot of good coaching and it was tougher. Playing Canada last, it made us challenge ourselves and play better so to win the championship here is amazing.”
Dominican Republic (3-2) captured its first U18 medal of any color after defeating Argentina (2-3) 64-53 in the bronze medal game. The silver medal marked Canada’s best finish at the U18s after winning three bronze medals (2008, 2010, 2012).
Despite jumping out to a quick12-3 lead, the eventual 34-point win didn’t come easy.
With the USA up 16-6 following a Johnson bucket at 5:47, Canada fought back by smothering the USA players defensively on nearly every possession, forcing the USA into 10 missed shots and four turnovers, while closing the gap to 18-15.
Donovan turned to his veteran leaders and they did not disappoint.
With 35 seconds left on the first quarter clock, Johnson drove the lane for the USA’s first field goal over a span of 5:12. Jones followed that by making one of two free throws and the first quarter ended with a six-point U.S. edge, 21-15.
Canada continued to put on the pressure, while closing the gap to two points, 21-19, in the first minute of the second quarter. However, Winslow scored the first four points and got a steal in a 9-2 U.S. run that gave the red, white and blue some breathing room, 30-21, at 6:37. Then, with the United States up 34-26, Jones scored five points, Winslow had four and drew a charge, while Johnson scored at the line and got a steal in another 9-2 run that expanded the lead to 43-28 with 1:35 to play before halftime. The U.S., which struggled from the line early in the game, closed out the half going a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe, to take a 14-point, 49-35, lead to the locker room.
“Justise Winslow, Stanley Johnson, Tyus Jones, those guys have been through a lot of this,” said Donovan. “Those guys really stepped up. I think that winning today was really, really important to them. They wanted to win and wanted to obviously represent our country well, especially considering the tournament’s here in Colorado Springs. So, I thought those guys, leadership-wise, did a great job.”
Racing out of the gate in the second half, the USA outscored Canada 9-2 and continued to increase its advantage through most of the quarter. After Canada hit a free throw to make the score 68-43, the USA left no doubt as to the outcome -- only the final score.
Sparked by a Tyler Lydon (New Hampton School/Elizaville, N.Y.) 3-pointer at 4:09, the USA reeled off 10 consecutive points, which ended with a pair of crowd-pleasing dunks from Stephen Zimmerman (Bishop Gorman H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) and with a little less than 13 minutes to play, the USA’s advantage was 78-43.
“I think we just wore them down,” said Jones, who finished the night with eight points and five assists. “They came out with a lot of energy, it’s obviously the championship game, but we knew we were deeper with our roster, so it was a group effort.”
By the end of the third quarter the USA led 85-53 and outscored Canada 28-26 in the fourth quarter.
Winslow posted a double-double of 20 points, 12 of which came in the first half, and 10 rebounds, while also contributing two assists and four steals. Isaiah Briscoe (Roselle Catholic H.S./Union, N.J.) closed the night with 14 points, Jalen Brunson (Adlai E. Stevenson H.S./Lincolnshire, Ill.) added 12 points and Luke Kennard (Franklin H.S./Franklin, Ohio) was the USA’s fifth double-digit scorer with 10 points. Additionally, Allonzo Trier (Montrose Christian/Seattle, Wash.) and Zimmerman, who also had nine rebounds, scored nine points apiece.
“This is special because of the role I play on this team, being the older guy, having done it before, being a leader, it’s something really special,” said Winslow. “We came together through adversity. It’s just a great feeling to win a gold medal for your country.”
Myles Turner (Trinity H.S./Bedford, Texas) was credited with four blocked shots, bringing his tournament total to a USA U18 competition record 18 blocks. He also holds the record for blocked shots averaged with 3.6 per game.
Canada’s Brooks Dillon was the game’s high scorer with 27 points, while Montaque Gill-Caesar scored 22 and Chris Egi scored 18 points.
In a foul-plagued game, which heard a combined 63 whistles blown, the U.S. went 30-of-41 (.732) from the line and Canada made 31 of its 44 (.705) free throw attempts.
The USA outrebounded its neighbors to the north 61-39 and collected 30 points off of 25 turnovers. Conversely, The USA coughed up the ball a championthip-high 20 times, but Canada was only able to convert them to six points. Owning a 30-26 scoring edge in the paint, the USA outscored Canada 30-4 on second chance points and a stunning 52-5 off the bench.
The high-octane offense shown by the United States throughout the tournament averaged a USA U18 record-breaking 115.4 points per game, breaking the previous record of 109.3 points a game set in 1990.
The USA, which trailed for just 4:05 throughout its five games, finished the eight-team tournament ranked No. 1 in most major statistical categories, including scoring offense, scoring margin (+54.8), scoring defense (60.6 ppg.), field goal percentage (.538), defensive field goal percentage (.316), defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.237), rebounding (52.6 rpg.) rebounding defense (34.6 rpg.), rebounding margin (+18.0), blocked shots (40), assists (114), steals (68), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.73), turnover margin (+10.6), offensive rebounds (18.4), defensive rebounds (34.2) and 3-point field goals made (7.8).
In classification finals, Puerto Rico (3-2) finished in fifth place with an 88-84 overtime victory over Brazil (1-4), while Mexico (1-4) took seventh after defeating Uruguay (1-4) 79-65.
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 48-2 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.