USA Men’s U16 National Team Has Record-Setting Night In 115-51 Win Over Dominican Republic
BAHIA BLANCA, Argentina -- Behind 25 points and a FIBA Americas U16 Championship record-tying seven 3-pointers from Gary Trent Jr. (Apple Valley H.S./Apple Valley, Minn.), the 2015 USA Men’s U16 National Team (2-0) eclipsed the single-game tournament record for 3-point field goals made with 19 en route to a 115-51 victory over Dominican Republic (1-1) on Thursday afternoon at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Bahía Blanca, Argentina.
“Part of what we do is we just get better every game,” said USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa), who has also coached the previous three USA U16 National Teams. “I saw a lot of progress today from yesterday. Our kids are playing our defense extremely well. When they’re all on the same page and rotate like we are, we can get a lot of easy baskets off of our defense.”
Trent, who finished the game with 25 points and shot 7-of-12 from 3-point, paced all scorers. Also hitting in double digits for the USA was Markus Howard (Findlay Prep, Nev./Chandler, Ariz.), who shot 6-of-10 from afar and finished with 20 points; Jaylen Nowell (Garfield H.S./Seattle, Wash.) had 13 points, three assists and three steals; and Robert Woodard (Columbus H.S./Columbus, Miss.) added 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Six-foot-2 guard Tre Jones (Apple Valley H.S./Appel Valley, Minn.) grabbed a game-best 10 boards to go with two points, five assists and three steals; while Wendell Carter Jr. (Pace Academy/Fairburn, Ga.) also dished out five assists and contributed nine points and seven caroms.
“It was very fun,” said Woodard of today’s game. “The team really played very well together. We passed the ball well, shot well and we just played together as a team.”
The USA’s previous record for made 3-pointers was 13, set by the 2009 USA U16 squad, while the previous tournament record of 14 made 3s was set by both Canada and Chile in 2011. Trent tied the USA and FIBA Americas U16 record for made 3s, previously set by Bradley Beal in 2009. Further, the USA’s U16 record of 23 steals versus Bahamas in 2013 was rewritten today as the 2015 USA U16 squad had 25 steals. The U.S. also eclipsed the former team and overall U16 championship 3-point attempt record of 42 with 44 tries from beyond the arc against Dominican Republic.
“You could say that, but not really,” said Trent when asked if he was in a zone today. “It was just my teammates. They put me in the right spots. It was up to the point guards running the offense and finding me.
“It’s really great,” added Trent. “I’m glad I have the opportunity to play for USA Basketball. Without this opportunity, I couldn’t even get close to that record. So, I want to thank USA Basketball for having me.”
The U.S. scored first, but Dominican Republic led 4-3 for 51 seconds in the early part of the game. However, a long ball by Javonte Smart (Scotlandville HS/Baton Rouge, La.) put the USA up for good, 6-4, at 8:19. That sparked a 9-0 spurt by the Americans, who extended the lead to 12-4 before the islanders converted on a three-point play. The U.S. quickly responded with its third trey of the game and began to slowly pull away. By the end of the first quarter, the USA had connected on seven 3-pointers and held a 33-17 advantage.
Changing up their defense, the American men put together a 22-0 run, which saw seven different players score, to open the second quarter and with 4:40 to go before halftime, the lead ballooned to an insurmountable score of 55-22. By the end of the second quarter, in which the USA allowed Dominican Republic two field goals, the lead ballooned to 68-22.
“We got the first-game jitters out yesterday,” said Nowell. “So today we came in and were more poised and we were able to knock down shots. We were able to trap. Our traps were very aggressive today. That’s one of the main reasons we were able to get so many steals. And our rotation was great, too.”
Outscoring Dominican Republic 26-10 in the third quarter, the USA, which held its largest lead (64 points) with an 89-25 advantage in the third period, won the fourth quarter 21-19 for the final.
Anderson Mirambeaux was Dominican Republic’s leading scorer with 13 points.
In the tale of the tape, the USA scored 44 points on the Dominican Republic’s 43 turnovers, while the islanders managed to convert for four points on the USA’s 22 turnovers. The USA outrebounded Dominican Republic 66-40, including 27-8 on the offensive glass, and dished out 24 assists on 43 made field goals. Additionally, the USA outscored its opponent 46-30 in the paint, 21-2 on second chance points and 59-23 off the bench.
“We’re practically un-guardable,” said Woodard. “It’s just hard to guard, because if you try to crash it in on the inside, we just pass it out and the jump shots are wide open and we’ll just knock them down.”
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 will earn a berth to the 2014 U17 Worlds. Thus, the win over Dominican Republic, coupled with an 82-75 Puerto Rican (1-1) victory over Brazil (0-2), assured the U.S. of a berth into the U16 medal semifinal round, as well as a slot in the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship.
Three-time defending FIBA Americas U16 Championship gold medalists, the 2015 USA U16 National Team concludes preliminary play on June 12 (5:15 p.m. EDT) with a clash against Brazil (0-2).
“We’re not going to overlook Brazil at all,” said Showalter. “They’re a team that didn’t do very well yesterday, but I think they want to come back and certainly try to prove that they can play with us.”
In Group B, Canada (1-0) takes on Mexico (0-1) at 5:15 p.m. (EDT), while host Argentina (1-0) tips off at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) tonight against Venezuela (0-1).
Following preliminary play, teams will be seeded, and the top two teams from each group will advance to the July 13 semifinals. The third- and fourth-placed teams in each groups will play in the classification semifinals on July 13. The finals are scheduled to be played July 14.
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 17-0 record overall, including today’s victory over Dominican Republic.