USA U16 Men Defeat Brazil, 123-83, To Finish 3-0 In Preliminary Play At FIBA Americas U16 Championship
Behind six double-digit scorers, including two who posted double-doubles, the 2015 USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team (3-0) defeated Brazil (0-3) 123-83 on Friday evening at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Bahía Blanca, Argentina. Three-time defending U16 gold medalists, the USA will meet up with host Argentina (2-1) in the July 13 medal semifinals (7:30 p.m. EDT).
Paced by a 21-point, 11-rebound performance by Wendell Carter Jr. (Pace Academy/Fairburn, Ga.), the U.S. also received a double-double from Jalen Hill (Corona Centennial H.S./Corona, Calif.), who came off the bench to contribute 14 points and 12 caroms. Also scoring in double figures were Kevin Knox II (Tampa Catholic H.S./Tampa, Fla.) with 16 points and four steals; Jordan Brown (Woodcreek H.S./ Roseville, Calif.) scored 14 points and grabbed nine boards; Gary Trent Jr. (Apple Valley H.S./Apple Valley, Minn.) scored 13 and Markus Howard (Findlay Prep, Nev./Chandler, Ariz.) chipped in 11 points.
“It’s kind of been our trait here over the past three games, not necessarily starting out slow, but I think the other team is fresh and hitting shots,” said USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa), who has also coached the previous three USA U16 National Teams. “Then we wear them down in the second quarter. We outscored Brazil 36-11 in the second quarter today. We really put a run on them in the second quarter. Part of that was our defense and part of that was kids coming in off the bench and giving us a really good effort.”
Brazil kept pace with the USA for most of the first quarter, which saw four lead changes and five tied scores, the final coming at 2:15 after Hill swished in a pair of free throws to even the score, 15-15. He followed that with a bucket 20 seconds later, giving the North Americans a lead they would never surrender.
“In the first quarter I think we had to really start to step it up, because I think we underestimated what they can do,” said Brown. “And so they came out and showed us that they could hang with us for a little bit of time at the beginning. Our bench is deep and they really weren’t able to hang with our bench when they came out. So, once we got through to the second quarter, we really got up. We just started playing hard and did our thing.”
In the final minutes of the first quarter Brazil hit a pair of 3s to cut the score to 24-21 with 36 seconds remaining. However, Trent tossed up a three-quarter court prayer, which went in at the buzzer to push the USA’s lead after the first quarter to 27-21.
That 3-pointer sparked the USA’s defensive fire, which resulted in a 20-0 run to open the second quarter. By the time Brazil nailed its first shot of the period, a 3-pointer at 6:13, the game was well in hand, 47-24.
“Once he hit that (long 3-pointer), it was icing on the cake and helped push us forward. We got going on a little bit of a run,” said Hill.
Following Brazil’s 3-point shot, the U.S. strung together 13-straight points to go up 60-24 with 4:01 still to play before halftime. Brazil outscored the U.S. 8-3 over the remainder of the half and the teams headed into the locker rooms with the U.S. up 63-32.
In the second-quarter push, the USA outrebounded Brazil 20-7, scored 16 points off of 11 turnovers and forced the South Americans to a frigid 4-of-14 from the field.
The USA continued to pressure Brazil and went up 97-45 at the end of the third quarter before cruising through the fourth for the 40-point victory.
Tre Jones (Apple Valley H.S./Appel Valley, Minn.), who had seven points, seven boards and three steals, dished out a team-high four of the USA’s 18 assists.
Knox and Javonte Smart (Scotlandville HS/Baton Rouge, La.) were credited with four steals apiece as the U.S. finished the night with 20 steals from 32 Brazilian turnovers.
The USA scored 47 points off turnovers, while Brazil earned 19 points from the USA’s 21 turnovers. The USA won the battle of second chance points by a score of 37-4, the USA’s bench outscored Brazil 58-22, and the team outrebounded Brazil 69-28.
Brazil received a game-high 24 points from Danilo Santos.
Dominican Republic (2-1) finished second in Group A behind the United States after taking down Puerto Rico (1-2) 71-66. Canada (3-0) swept Group B after defeating Argentina (2-1) 76-62, while Mexico (1-2) picked up its first victory with an 88-70 win over Venezuela (0-3).
Canada will face the Dominican Republic in the medal semifinals with the winners of the medal semifinal games advancing to the June 14 (7:30 p.m. EDT) gold medal game.
The U16 tournament serves as the Americas zone qualifier for the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship, and the top four finishing nations from the FIBA Americas U16 Championship, the four medal semifinalists -- Argentina, Canada, Dominican Republic and the USA -- have earned the four FIBA Americas spots for the 2016 U17 Worlds.
“We know Argentina really well,” said Showalter. “They’ve always been very competitive. They’re going to be physical, as most of the teams are that we have played here. They’re not going to give us anything easy. We just have to be aware of that and battle through some things. They’re very well coached, they always set a lot of screens on you and they always have a good game plan.”
Assisting Showalter and the 2015-16 USA Junior National Team are Miles Simon (California Supreme AAU) and Sharman White (Miller Grove H.S., Ga.).
Held every other year, the FIBA Americas U16 Championship first was contested in 2009, and under the direction of Showalter, the USA has earned the gold medal in all three editions, compiling a perfect 18-0 record overall, including today’s victory over Brazil.