USA Out Runs Iran 83-53 In FIBA U19 World Championship Opener
Paced by Josh Jackson’s (Prolific Prep, Calif./ Southfield, Mich.) double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, and a 14 point, nine rebound and three blocked shot effort by Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.), the USA Men’s U19 World Championship Team opened preliminary play Saturday evening with an 83-53 win over Iran (0-1) at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Heraklion, Greece.
All 12 USA players put points into the scorebook, and Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.) was the third U.S. team member to score in double figures, recording 12 points, seven rebounds and swatting away two shots.
“We got off to a very slow start in terms of missing point-blank shots that we normally make, and we didn’t shoot the ball well from 3 or the foul line. I think anytime that you miss layups, 3s and free throws, that puts a lot of pressure on your defense,” said USA and University of Arizona head mentor Sean Miller. “To our team’s credit, we continued to really work hard. Our press started to take affect and I think the identity of our team is that we get contributions from a lot of guys. Jawun Evans came off the bench tonight and gave us a huge spark.”
“I think when you play the style that we play, scoring runs should accompany it and it certainly happened in a number of parts of the game today.”
It was a frigid first quarter for the USA as the Americans had difficulty finding its shooting eye. Making just 3-of-19 shots from the field in the opening stanza, the USA was 1-of-4 from 3-point and only 8-of-13 from the foul line as Iran led 12-6 and with 3:41 to play in the quarter was up 15-8. The U.S. cut the deficit to 15-12 and Jalen Brunson (Stevenson H.S./Lincolnshire, Ill.) hit a 3 to tie the game at 15.
Tied 15-15 starting the second quarter, the USA and Iran were tied 17 all with 8:46 remaining in quarter two when the USA erupted for an 18-5 scoring run that pushed the Americans ahead 35-22 with 3:19 left before half. The U.S. finished off the quarter by out producing Iran 6-to-2 and at halftime the USA led 41-24 and had seemingly put this game away.
Iran opened the third quarter by outscoring the USA 12-2 and with 5:31 remaining in the third period the USA lead had shrunk to seven points, 43-36.
Giles got the USA back on the offensive with a basket and when the third quarter horn sounded, the USA, after posting a 21-1 scoring run, was back comfortably ahead leading 64-37.
The red, white and blue controlled the fourth quarter as well, outscoring Iran 19-16 to claim the 83-53 win.
“We were just trying to win by as many points as possible, be the best team that we can be,” said Jackson, who made 8-of-14 shot attempts and all four free throw tries. “I feel that my role on this team is just to be the best defender and rebound, and everything else will come pretty easily.
“Basketball is a game of runs, everybody in this tournament has a pretty good team, you can loose any game at any time. What we do is we just keep adding pressure and pressure and hopefully after a while it wears on them.
“Having 12 really good players is definitely one of our greatest strengths. That’s the best thing about Team USA, year in and year out we are deep; we have the best team across the board every year.
The United States shot just 38.2 percent from the field, made just 2-of-15 from 3-points, and struggled from the line shooting only 23-37, still won by 30 points thanks to Iran making 32.8 percent of its shot from the field, and just 9-of-17 from the foul line.
The U.S. pulled down 26 offensive rebounds and held a 51-46 advantage on the glass. While the USA had 17 turnovers, the USA’s pressure defense force Iran into 33 turnovers.
“It seems like when we sub we get fresh bodies in there, and that’s what is good about Team USA, we have depth, a lot of teams can’t sub like we can and when we do that we still have guys with fresh legs who can pressure, get steals and that’s what gets us in transition and those runs like we had,: said Tatum.
On Sunday (June 28 at 11:15 a.m. EDT), the Americans play medal favorite Croatia (1-0), who beat Egypt 111-68 Saturday evening, then finish off preliminary play against Egypt (0-1) on Tuesday (June 30 at 9:00 a.m. EDT).
"It’s one game at a time, we’ve got a really good Croatia team tomorrow and we’re looking forward to it. We like the challenge,” added Tatum.
In other action Saturday, in Group B Turkey (1-0) downed Argentina (0-1) 74-64, and Spain (1-0) knocked off China (0-1) 84-73. In Group C action, Italy (1-0) beat Tunisia (0-1) 89-62, and Canada (1-0) edged Australia (0-1) 74-71; In Group D, host Greece (1-0) defeated South Korea (0-1) 83-55, and Serbia nipped Dominican Republic (0-1) 82-77.
Following completion of the preliminary round, all 16 teams advance to the round of 16 that will be played on July 1. The winners advance to the medal-round quarterfinals on July 3, while the round of 16 losers will compete out for 9th-16th places. The semifinals are on July 4, and the finals are on July 5.
The 2015 USA Men’s U19 World Championship Team coaching staff is led by Sean Miller, and features USA assistant coaches Ed Cooley (Providence) and Archie Miller (Dayton).