Additional Quotes: USA Men’s U16 National Team 119, Argentina 76
USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa)
How tough is it to play Argentina, especially in Argentina?
Argentina is extremely tough to play on their home court with the home crowd. They are a very aggressive team, but I thought our players responded very well to playing against their defense. We have played against Argentina many times over the past years and every time it is a very physical game like the one tonight.
Argentina never gave up and kept fighting through the second half. Did that surprise you at all?
We told the players at halftime that Argentina was not going to hand the game to us without a fight, so we responded really well in the second half to what they did to us defensively.
Can you comment on the defensive effort of the team today and also what Tre Jones brings to the defense?
I thought in the first half our defense was as good as it has been the whole tournament. We really put some pressure on Argentina, which caused a lot of turnovers. We also had some great rotations with our defense and that created many of our steals.
Tre has really improved with each game here in Argentina from the standpoint of running our team and making some great basketball plays, and playing the kind of defense that has caused the offense some big problems. I really like the intensity level that he brings to the court
What are your thoughts on Canada and how will you impress upon the team that Canada is a different team than when the USA and Canada scrimmaged last week?
Canada as I have said before is very similar to us athletically and basketball skill wise. We certainly will not take them lightly as we know this will be a gold-medal game and everything is on the line. Both teams have been much better since the scrimmage, so we certainly are not overlooking them in the gold medal game.
Markus Howard (Findlay Prep, Nev./Chandler, Ariz.)
Did you expect the game to be as physical as it was?
We expected that coming in. The international play in general is very physical. We knew it was going to be extra physical tonight, just because of being in Argentina and playing Argentina, that they wanted to make a statement to their home crowd. So, we knew we had to come and be physical with them as they were with us. We knew what to expect coming into the game today.
How were you able to stop Argentina’s initial second-half surge?
We knew we had to communicate. We knew we weren’t communicating that well on defense, so once we really started communicating and picking up off each other brains, we were able to come back and cut that run down and do what we know how to do.
Why are you and your teammates so excited to get Conner Vanover the ball in scoring position?
Connor is just a great guy. Everybody loves him. Just like everybody else, everybody just gravitates towards him, being 7-foot-3, but him being 7-foot-3 is not what is special about him. What’s special about him is the type of person he is, we all just love him. So, when he gets out on the court and he does his thing, we’re all happy for him because we all really care about him.
Tre Jones (Apple Valley H.S./Appel Valley, Minn.)
On going into the USA record books for steals:
I didn’t know what it was, but our team is focused on deflections and we got a lot tonight. It led me to running through them, getting some steals and then setting up my guys for shots.
It’s crazy, all the great players who have come through here and I’m the one with the steals record. I’m speechless. I don’t know what to say about that.
What did you think about the game tonight?
Argentina is a great team. It was a great atmosphere. It’s probably one of the funnest I’ve ever played in. Argentina is a great team and after that win, getting ready for the gold medal, we have to refocus. We only have one goal in mind and that’s to win gold tomorrow. So we have to prepare for that game.
Do you think having Manu Ginobili in the crowd pumped up the Argentine team?
Oh yeah, probably. They probably wanted to play pretty good for him. They played really good. They’re a great team, a great club. It was just a lot of fun tonight with a great atmosphere.
Javonte Smart (Scotlandville HS/Baton Rouge, La.)
How difficult was it playing Argentina at home?
It was tough, because they had a lot of fans. They brought out a huge crowd and we had to step up to the plate, because it’s their home. It was just hard.
Was it good to have a game like this heading into tomorrow’s gold medal game?
It was good because it gave us more competition, which will help us in the gold medal game.
How fun is it to play with these guys?
It’s real fun. We have fun on and off the court and I like the way we bonded in the two weeks we’ve been together.
On Tre Jones setting the USA steals record:
I’m glad he broke the record for steals. That’s my dude, that’s my homeboy and I really like that he got that.