Men's U18 Team Defeats Argentina, Advances to Semifinals
The 2014 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team (3-0) led wire-to-wire in a 118-64 victory over Argentina (2-1) to close preliminary round play at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Sunday night at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. With the win, which was paced by Jalen Brunson’s (Adlai E. Stevenson H.S./Lincolnshire, Ill.) 16 points, the U.S. advances to the medal semifinals as the top team out of Group B and will face Dominican Republic (2-1), the second place team from Group A, in the June 23 medal semifinals at 5:30 p.m. (MDT). In the first medal semifinal contest Canada (3-0), the No. 1 seed from Group A, will play Argentina at 3:15 p.m. (MDT) for the right to advance to the June 24 gold medal game.
All games are being streamed live online by FIBA Americas and can be viewed via fibaamericas.com or YouTube/fibaamericas.
All four medal semifinal teams earned a berth to the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship, which will be hosted by Greece.
“The guys did a good job tonight,” said USA U18 National Team and University of Florida head coach Billy Donovan, whose USA Basketball head coaching record now stands at 17-0. “I think during our last three games, we’ve gotten better in some areas and we got a chance to learn in some other areas, so we’re excited that we’ve been able to move on and advance to the medal round.
“They’ve got some really outstanding guards that are fast, quick and really do a great job rebounding the basketball,” added Donovan on his team’s semifinal opponent. “They are a fast, athletic team. They will be a great challenge for us defensively guarding their backcourt people and also being able to rebound the basketball.”
For the third time in as many games, all available U.S. team members scored, including six in double digits and nine with eight or more points. In addition to Brunson, who also dished out six assists; Tyler Lydon (New Hampton School/ Elizaville, N.Y.) scored 14, 12 of which came in the first half; Allonzo Trier (Montrose Christian/Seattle, Wash.) and Justise Winslow (St. John’s School/Houston, Texas) scored 13 points apiece;Jaylen Brown (Wheeler H.S./Alpharetta, Ga.) and Luke Kennard (Franklin H.S./Franklin, Ohio) chipped in 10 each; while Chase Jeter (Bishop Gorman H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) added nine points and Tyus Jones (Apple Valley H.S./Apple Valley, Minn.) and Stephen Zimmerman (Bishop Gorman H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) contributed eight points each.
“(Argentina) played well,” said Jones. “They ran their sets and got into their sets. We were able to speed them up with our press. We just had a good energy level tonight and I think that was a big difference.”
A pair of USA Basketball veterans, Jones and Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S./Fullerton, Calif.) connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to put the North Americans up 6-0 to start the contest. Following an Argentine lay-in, Johnson scored four more points in 7-0 USA run and with a little over three minutes expired, the USA’s lead reached double digits, 13-2. With the score standing 16-6, the USA strung together a 16-2 run to put the game virtually out of reach, 32-8, with 1:33 left in the first quarter.
By the time the buzzer sounded for the first break, the red, white and blue owned a 34-11 lead, due in large part to scoring 14 points off of eight Argentina turnovers, while four of the USA’s nine steals on the night came in the first stanza. Additionally, the first quarter saw the USA connect on 52.2 percent (12-23 FGs) of its shots from the field and 57.1 percent (4-7 3pt FGs) from afar, while limiting Argentina to an ice-cold 27.8 percent (5-18 FGs) from the field as Argentina missed all five of its 3-point attempts.
“I definitely love (playing pressure defense) because we have the weapons to play defense like that and it’s a lot fun when we’re getting turnovers and steals and easy layups,” said Brunson, who is playing on his first USA Basketball team. “We just love to have fun when we’re playing; we’re one team playing hard and playing together.”
The USA went on to outscore Argentina 29-15 in the second quarter for a 63-26 halftime advantage, then won the third by a 28-15 margin and closed out the fourth quarter 27-23 to bring the score to its lopsided final.
Jones passed out nine of the USA’s 21 assists, while Myles Turner (Trinity H.S./Bedford, Texas) had four blocked shots for his third-straight game and is one block shy of tying the USA’s U18 competition record of 13 blocks, set in 1994.
“I think I fit right in (with coach Donovan’s philosophy of unselfishness),” stated Jones on his unselfish play. “I’d rather play unselfish, so making the extra pass doesn’t take effort from me. I’d rather get my teammates involved and rather have them score. I love playing for coach Donovan and how he preaches unselfishness and making the extra pass.”
Owning a 55-40 rebounding margin, the USA was led on the glass by Kennard with nine, Winslow hauled in eight and Zimmerman grabbed seven.
In the end, the USA earned 27 of its points off of Argentina’s 16 miscues, while Argentina managed nine points from the USA’s eight turnovers. The North Americans outscored the South Americans 62-38 in the paint, 19-4 in second-chance opportunities, 72-19 off the bench and held a 24-15 margin on the fast break. Following its frigid first-quarter shooting, Argentina finished the night at 33.8 percent (24-71 FGs) from the field and 13.6 percent (3-22 3pt FGs) from 3-point, while the USA’s potent offensive machine hit 54.2 percent (45-83 FGs) of its tries from the field and connected on 34.6 (9-26 3pt FGs) from afar.
Lucas Delfino, younger brother of eight-year NBA veteran and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Carlos Delfino, led all scorers with 19 points; Juan Arengo added 12 and Jose Vildoza chipped in 10 for Argentina.
In the other Group B contest today Uruguay picked up its first win after defeating Mexico (0-3) 89-70. In Group A, Canada beat Puerto Rico (1-2) and Dominican Republic downed Brazil (0-3) 72-69.
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 46-2 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.
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