USA U17 Men Head Into Medal Semifinals With 113-71 Victory Over China
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The 2014 USA Men’s U17 World Championship Team (5-0) led from start to finish for the fifth time in as many games en route to a 113-71 medal quarterfinal victory over China (2-3) at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship for Men on Thursday afternoon at the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The game saw two USA U17 blocked shots record fall as Diamond Stone (Dominican H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.), who scored 17 points and hauled in eight rebounds, set USA U17 records for single-game and U17 competition blocked shots. He swatted five, edging the previous record of four, against China and his 20 blocks through five games eclipsed the previous USA U17 mark of 15.
Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake H.S./Rice Lake, Wis.) led the U.S. squad with 21 points and 10 rebounds as all 12 USA athletes put points on the board. Also hitting in double digits were Malik Newman (Callaway H.S./Jackson, Miss.) with 16 points to go with five assists, Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.) scored 12 points and Terrence Ferguson (Prime Prep Academy/Flower Mound, Texas) chipped in 11 points.
The Americans advance to the medal semifinals for the third time in three editions of the U17 World Championship and will take on Serbia (5-0) on Aug. 15 (time TBD, ESPNU/Watch ESPN). The other half of the semifinal bracket features Australia (4-1) versus the winner of tonight’s France (4-1) versus Spain (3-1) quarterfinal game (1 p.m. EDT). Winners will advance to the Aug. 15 gold medal game (1 p.m. EDT), which will be carried live by ESPN3, preceded by the bronze medal contest (10:45 a.m. EDT). ESPNU/Watch ESPN will show a replay of the gold medal game on Aug. 15 at 10 p.m. EDT.
“After watching China and Italy play the other night, as a coaching staff we were concerned with a lot of things that China did,” said USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa), who now owns an overall 21-0 win-loss record in FIBA U17 World Championship Games. “(Yanhao Zhao) is a great shooter and we did a great job on him. Fergie (Terrance Ferguson) and V.J. (King) and whoever else, we had different guys guarding him, but we held him to 11 points, which is way under his average (22.3 ppg. in China’s first four games).
“We kept their bigs off the boards. Diamond Stone played very well, Caleb (Swanigan) came off the bench and played well. Really, all of our bigs did. So, that was big for us too
“And, (I’m pleased with) how we got started out. We had to get started out in a way that China was always trying to make a comeback as opposed to playing on top. That’s what they did against Italy.
The Americans started off strong, scored the game’s first seven points and went up 15-4 midway through the first quarter. After its defense allowed China’s only field goal of the stanza, the USA grabbed a 19-6 lead with 4:05 remaining. China hit 3-of-4 from the line to pull to 10 points, but a put-back and a traditional 3-point play from Ellenson sparked an 11-2 run and at the end of the first 10 minutes of play the United States owned a 30-11 advantage.
China picked up its pace in the second quarter and matched the U.S. almost point for point. With the USA’s lead at 20 points, 37-17, with five minutes to go in the half, China outscored the U.S. 8-2 over the next few minutes. After a tip-in gave China its final points of the second quarter and cut the lead to 39-25 at 2:14, Showalter called for time to regroup.
“He just said that we dropped the energy level,” recalled Giles on what Showalter stressed during that timeout. “We were acting like we won the game already and we had them where we thought they were going to quit, but then we gave them a light to get back in the game. So, he just got on us about not letting up because China is good, they can come back and make a run. If we let them get close, they’ll come back. So we went out there and picked up the energy again and got back to where we wanted to be.”
Coming out of the huddle and fueled by an energized Ellenson, the USA quickly put the brakes on any upset hopes China might be harboring. The Americas got three-straight steals and Ellenson scored 10 points in a 12-0 run that closed out the half with the USA back in full command, 51-25.
“I just brought energy,” said Ellenson on his contributions to end the first half. “That’s what we needed. I just got after it defensively and that turns into offense. That was a fun spurt for me, for sure. I think sometimes we just didn’t bring the energy. We were just letting them do whatever. So, coach called a couple time outs when we were dead. We just got on our guys to bring the energy, to get the run going because we don’t want to give them any hope to get back in the game.”
The run continued into the second half as the red, white and blue outscored China 18-2 in the first four minutes of the second half for a combined 30-2 scoring spree that put the game out of reach, 69-27.
“(At halftime coach Showalter) was telling us that China, they can always get back into the game,” said Newman. “The game wasn’t over, so we played as if we were down.”
Closing the third quarter up 85-43, the USA sailed through the fourth quarter for the 113-71 victory.
Josh Jackson (Consortium College Prep H.S./ Southfield, Mich.) turned in nine points, six boards and four of the USA’s 18 assists; while Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.) added eight points.
“We have to stay focused,” said Tatum on the USA’s final two games. “We have to respect our opponents, come out there and play our game and we should be fine.”
Scoring 26 points off of 26 Chinese turnovers, the United States won the battle of the boards 55 rebounds to 32 and only allowed China to get 14 offensive caroms. The Americans owned a commanding 92-30 scoring advantage in the paint and outscored China 30-11 on the fast break. Further, the U.S. shot a red-hot 56.8 percent (50-88 FGs) from the field, while holding China to a mere 32.8 percent (22-67 FGs) from the floor.
“Coach always tells me to be more assertive, he tells me to be more active and try to erase everything that comes my way. And that’s what I try to do,” said Stone, who broke James Michael McAdoo’s competition record (15 blocked shots in 2010); as well as the previous single-game U.S. high of four, which was owned by Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond and McAdoo in different games in 2010.
Serbia advanced to the semifinals after surging past Canada (3-2) in the fourth quarter to take a 71-64 victory, while Australia earned its semifinal berth after handing Puerto Rico (4-1) its first loss, 76-52. Australia will play the winner tonight’s final game, featuring France and Spain for the right to play for gold.
In classification play, Italy (3-2) defeated Japan (0-5) 83-56, Angola (2-3) downed host UAE (0-5) 89-47 and Argentina (3-2) defeated the Philippines (0-5) 84-71. In the night’s final classification game, Greece (3-2) defeated Egypt (0-5) 67-50.
Two-time defending U17 gold medalists, the USA now has a perfect 21-0 record at the U17s. The U.S. qualified for this year’s U17s by virtue of its gold-medal finish at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
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 Brad Beal was tabbed MVP of the tournament of the biennial event. In 2012 Jahlil Okafor earned MVP honors and 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.
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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