Additional Quotes: USA Men’s U16 National Team 105, Puerto Rico 54
USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa)
On the game:
“Typically our first game for us over the past couple of years is one where we struggle. But, I thought our energy level was tremendous the whole game. I’ve always said that when our seven guys come off the bench, we don’t lose anything from what our starters give us. That was the case tonight.”
Puerto Rico hung in there to start. Did that worry you at all?
“Part of our whole philosophy is that we want to wear people down. They hit some big shots in the first quarter, but as the game goes on, and once our defense really kicks in and we get guys putting a lot of pressure on, then those shots don’t tend to fall so much in the second, third and fourth quarters.”
Wendell Carter Jr. (Pace Academy/Fairburn, Ga.)
On today’s game:
We played well and kept our intensity level up. We played together as one instead of being selfish. And we played great on defense, which is how we got the W.
Will defense be the hallmark of this team?
Yes. We are going to get after it with our defense. We’re all great scorers. The scoring is going to come, but it’s better to be great on defense and be a great player overall instead of being a great player without having good defense.
Did anyone stand out today to you?
Markus stood out today. He’s a very shifty guard; he got by everybody. I want to give a shot out to all my teammates. Everybody played really well today.
Markus Howard (Findlay Prep, Nev./Chandler, Ariz.)
On today’s game:
“It was good atmosphere, great environment to be playing in. The guys were really excited and when you’re excited, and you’re coming into an atmosphere like this, you tend to do well. So, we had a lot of fun with it. We made sure we took care of business and got the win big time.”
Puerto Rico kept it close in the first quarter. What changed?
“We just knew that we had to pick up our intensity on defense and communicate more. Once we did that, we knew that we had the game sealed, because we’re all gelling together on defense and everything else just falls into place from there. Really, we just started communicating more with each other and it was a sense of having each other’s backs. Once we have that, I don’t think anyone will be able to beat us.”
Kevin Knox II (Tampa Catholic H.S./Tampa, Fla.)
How was your first game in a USA Basketball jersey?
“It was pretty good. I liked the intensity. The environment was good. The fans, they loved us. It’s good knowing that a lot of those kids want your high five, your autograph, your picture. This is a great opportunity for everyone.”
What is your assessment on how the team played?
“We played very well. We played together. We had good passes. We all played as a team. There was no selfishness. There was no one-on-one ball. It’s all of us together and I like that. I think we’re going to be able to win gold.”
There were 22 turnovers and several easy missed baskets. Was it nerves or the excitement of playing in your first game?
“I think it was just because it was our first game. I think we’re going to have a little roughness early on in the start. But, once we started playing more, we picked it up.”