Italy No Match For USA U19 Men, U.S. Takes 86-65 Victory To Advance To FIBA U19 World Championship Medal Round Semifinals
-- Jalen Brunson Tallies 17 Points In Win, USA To Face Host Greece In Semis --
HERAKLION, Crete, Greece – Guard Jalen Brunson (Stevenson H.S./Lincolnshire, Ill.) shot 3-for-3 from 3-point and finished with 17 points, while Harry Giles(Wesleyan Christian Academy/ Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep, Calif./Southfield, Mich.) contributed 14 points each, as the USA improved to 5-0 and advanced to medal round semifinals after disposing of Italy (3-2) 86-65 on Friday night at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Heraklion, Greece.
The USA U19 Men, looking to earn a second-consecutive world title, will meet host Greece (5-0), 70-59 winners over Spain (3-2) in the semifinals, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. EDT. The two teams met in a friendly exhibition game on June 23, and the USA rallied in the fourth quarter to earn a 90-82 victory. The USA’s semifinal game will be televised live on ESPNU.
“It’s going to be a really, really difficult game for us,” said USA and University of Arizona coachSean Miller. “We played them in a friendly when we first got over here (June 23). They led for most of the game and in the fourth quarter we broke the game open.
“I believe we’re a better team now than we were then, but I believe they are as well. We’re going to have to play in front of a packed house, and we’re going to have to play through some adversity. It’s going to be a great, great challenge for our team.”
Croatia will face Turkey in the other semifinals game. Winners of the semifinals games will meet in Sunday’s gold medal game (1:30 p.m. EDT), while the semifinals losers will play in the bronze medal game (11:15 a.m. EDT).
“We played against a good team tonight,” said Sean Miller. “The thing about this tournament is it’s a world championship, and when you start getting into the quarterfinals, semifinals, you’re playing against really good players, teams that have won in this tournament.
“Every game that we play from this point on, the competition stiffens. For us a win by this margin tonight is a great win. We’re excited to be in the semifinals. I will say that yesterday we had 26 turnovers; today we had 22; that’s a real problem. If you think about that, that’s 48 times in the last two games we didn’t get a shot at the basket. I think that’s negating some of the things we’re doing better.”
The USA and Italy traded punches earlier as Italy slipped out to a 10-5 lead and held a 16-13 led with 5:01 remaining in the first quarter.
Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.) scored two of his 12 points to give the U.S. its first lead of the night, 17-16. Italy regained the lead 18-17 with 4:10 left in the period, but Brunson and Tatum scored four points each to help ignite the USA on a 10-0 scoring run, and the USA finished off the first quarter up 27-21
Outscoring Italy 8-2 to start the second stanza, the U.S. advantage was upped to 35-23. After Brunson hit a 3 and Caleb Swanigan (Homestead H.S./Fort Wayne, Ind.) finished off an old-fashioned three-point play with a free throw, the USA lead stood at 20 at halftime, 53-33.
“I think we came out with a lot of intensity,” said Villanova University bound Brunson. “They made a couple of shots early, but that didn’t discourage us. We ended up winning the quarter by seven points.
“I felt locked and loaded. I just felt comfortable,” said Brunson on his 7-for-10 shooting night. “Once you see the first one go in, obviously, you get more confidence; you make the next one and then just keep shooting. I think it’s a credit to my teammates for finding me as well.
Italy managed to cut the deficit to 12, 63-51, with 3:05 left in the third quarter, but L.J. Peak(Georgetown/ Gaffney, S.C.) made two free throws to end Italy’s run, and after the USA added six more points to close out the third period, the USA lead was 71-54. Italy never again was able to significantly cut into the USA lead as the Americans posted the 86-65 win.
“We gave great effort. They’re a great team, we had to really focus in on defense. They had a lot of action going on,” said Tatum. “They’re probably the toughest team we had to guard. They’re very skilled, shoot a lot of 3s and they move the ball well on offense. I think we did a pretty good job."
Continuing to rely on a balanced effort, all 11 healthy players, Allonzo Trier (Findlay Prep, Nev./Seattle, Wash.) did not play after suffering a sprained right ankle in the win versus Argentina Wednesday.
The USA dominated the glass and outrebounded Italy 47-28, which led to 16 second-chance points. Swanigan led the USA effort on the boards, grabbing 12, while Giles snatched 10 to earn his third straight double-double. Jackson and Tatum cleared five rebounds each.
After shooting 73.3 percent (11-15) from the field in the first quarter, the USA finished the night making 54 percent of its shots, and sank 5-of-9 shots from behind the 3-point arc. Turnovers were the USA’s only real blemish in the outing The U.S. turned the ball over 22 times.
Italy was harassed into 33.8 percent (22-65 FGs) percent shooting overall, and made just 6-of-22 from 3-point. Italy committed 18 turnovers in the loss.
In other medal round quarterfinals action on Friday, Turkey (5-0) beat Australia (2-3) 81-70; Croatia (4-1) defeated Canada (4-1) 84-71; and Greece (5-0) knocked off Spain (2-3) 70-59.
In the consolation quarterfinals, Argentina (1-4) upended Dominican Republic (0-5) 71-66, South Korea (1-4) downed China (1-4) 77-54, Egypt (2-3) bettered Tunisia (0-5) 81-68, and Serbia bested Iran (0-5) 83-70.
The 2015 USA Men’s U19 World Championship Team coaching staff in addition to being led by Sean Miller, features USA assistant coaches Ed Cooley (Providence) and Archie Miller (Dayton).