USA U17 Men Outpace Japan 122-38, Advance To Medal Quarterfinals
-- Jayson Tatum’s 19 Points Leads Six U.S. Players In Double Digits --
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
All 12 players scored, including six in double digits, as the 2014 USA Men’s U17 World Championship Team (4-0) went up 22-0 to start the game and ran away with an overwhelming 122-38 victory over Japan in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship for Men round of 16 on Tuesday afternoon at the Al Shabab Arena in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
With the win, the Americans advance to the medal quarterfinals where they will face China (2-2) on Aug. 14 (time TBD, ESPNU/Watch ESPN). Medal semifinals will be played Aug. 15 and the finals will take place Aug. 16. Should the U.S. men continue to advance, all of their games will be carried by ESPNU/Watch ESPN or ESPN3.
Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.), who had 10 points by halftime, came off the bench for the first time in the tournament and finished with a team-high 19 points; Malik Newman (Callaway H.S./Jackson, Miss.) scored all 15 of his points in the first half and also contributed a team-high six assists; Diamond Stone (Dominican H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.) posted 14 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double in four games and also notched six of the USA’s 10 blocked shots; Josh Jackson (Consortium College Prep H.S./ Southfield, Mich.) was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field and scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half; while Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake H.S./Rice Lake, Wis.) and Terrence Ferguson(Prime Prep Academy/Flower Mound, Texas) chipped in 12 points apiece.
Further, Caleb Swanigan (Homestead H.S./Fort Wayne, Ind.) hit 4-of-4 from the field and finished with nine points and eight boards, while Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.) had eight points and eight caroms.
“These guys did a great job of staying focused today,” said USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa), who now owns an overall 20-0 win-loss record in FIBA U17 World Championship Games. “The thing we focused on is doing things the right way. We’re still working on getting them to do things the right way. When you respect your opponent, you still play hard. The worst thing you can do is disrespect your opponent, not play hard and make a mockery of the game. So, our kids really focused in on that and that’s what we wanted to do.”
Reeling off a 22-0 opening run, the U.S. left no doubt early on as to the outcome, just the final score.
“I thought we did a really good job today,” said Ellenson. “We dominated the game from the get-go. It was a big thing for us because of yesterday to get a good start. We kind of had a lackadaisical start yesterday. We were still up, but that was a big key for us today, to get a big jump on them from the start of the game today.”
Rui Hachimura, who finished with 25 points, scored all six of his first-quarter points in a 6-5 Japanese spurt midway through the quarter.
However, with the score showing 27-6, three minutes to go before the break and a fresh five off of the bench, the Americans strung together 14 unanswered points to take a 41-6 lead at the end of the first stanza.
Tatum, who was subbed in the starting line-up by Ferguson today, made an almost immediate impact after checking in. He had a steal and dunk at 3:00 and ended up with seven of the USA’s final 14 points of the first quarter.
“It’s very important to have no let-up off the bench,” quipped Tatum. “Because after you sub in the intensity has to keep up, it can’t drop off if we want to win the gold medal.
“There are a number of reasons,” stated Showalter on his line-up change. “Terrance has really been playing well, defensively and offensively. We wanted to get him in the line-up. And Jayson came off the bench for us last year with our U16 team and we really thought he scored better off the bench and played a little better off the bench. Today we thought we’d give that a try and I think it helped Jayson out a lot and it helped Terrance out a lot. The line-up change was a good one for us. Both of them benefitted from their spots. So, sometimes that works and today it fortunately did.”
The lead continued to expand throughout the second quarter and by halftime the score stood at 75-17.
Hachimura scored 16 of his squad’s first-half points, while the U.S. held the rest of the Japan squad to 0-of-14 from the field and scored 23 points from 11 Japanese turnovers, nine of which were steals by the Americans.
The USA outscored Japan 27-14 in the third quarter and 20-7 in the fourth for the game’s final.
“I really credit Japan for not giving up,” said Newman. “They played hard each play down the court. They’re small, but they’re tough. They have a lot of heart. Tor those guys to come out and compete like they did really speaks a lot about them.”
After owning a 34-6 advantage on the glass in the first quarter, the USA finished the contest with a whopping 65-13 rebounding margin.
Overall, the USA outscored Japan 27-4 on turnovers, 16 on the USA and 17 on Japan, 86-14 points in the paint, 28-6 second-chance points, 30-10 on the fast break and the USA’s bench again made a statement with a 59-5 scoring advantage.
The USA, which had 19 assists, shot a scorching 66.3 percent (55-83 FGs) from the field and 28.6 percent (6-21 3pt FGs) from 3-point, while holding Japan to a frigid 21.6 percent (16-74 FGs) from the floor and just 5.6 percent (1-18 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc.
“Our trust and our chemistry has been getting tighter and tighter every game,” said Stone. “Back in our first practice we were off, we were all about our own egos, but now we’re starting to follow and listed to coach’s message. We are playing more and more like a team.”
China advanced to the quarterfinals by virtue of a 79-67 victory over Italy. Also advancing to keep their medal hopes alive were Canada (3-1) with a 106-59 win over Angola (1-3); France (3-1) downed the Philippines (0-4) 86-57; Puerto Rico, which remained undefeated, earned a close 86-70 overtime victory over Egypt (0-4); Serbia (4-0) had no problem with host UAE (0-4) 116-31; Spain (3-1) defeated Argentina (2-2) 64-57; while Greece (3-1) earned the final quarterfinals spot with an 84-76 win over Australia (2-2).
Should the U.S. defeat China, the Americans would face the winner of the Canada versus Serbia quarterfinal in the medal semifinals. The other half of the final eight brackets include Australia versus Puerto Rico and France versus Spain.
Two-time defending U17 gold medalist, the USA now has a perfect 20-0 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.