USA U17 Men Run Away With Fourth-Straight Gold Medal, Take Down Turkey 96-56
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-- Collin Sexton Named MVP, Wendell Carter On All-Tournament Team --
After spotting Turkey (5-2) an 8-2 lead, the 2016 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship Team (7-0) turned on the ignition, went on a 19-0 scoring spree and continued to dominate for a 96-56 golden victory on Sunday night in Zaragoza, Spain. The win, which was the largest margin of victory in a men’s U17 title game, marked the fourth-straight gold medal for the USA in as many editions of the FIBA U17 World Championship for Men and now stand at a perfect 30-0 all-time in U17 play.
Collin Sexton (Pebblebrook H.S./Mableton, Ga.), who came off the bench to finish with 16 points, including 10 in the first quarter, and eight assists, was named the U7 World Championship MVP. Joining Sexton on the All-Star Five Team was his USA teammate Wendell Carter Jr. (Pace Academy/Fairburn, Ga.), who finished the night with 11 points and eight rebounds, as well as Lithuania’s Arnas Velicka, Bosnia-Herzegovina guard Dzanan Musa and Spain forward Sergi Martinez.
Lithuania (5-2) defeated host Spain (5-2) 81-63 for the bronze medal, its first medal of any kind at the FIBA U17 World Championship. 2016 marked Turkey’s first U17 berth and medal at the U17s.
“For having a group like this come together as well as they have, especially on the defensive end, was a real tribute to Miles Simon and Mike Jones,” said USA U17 head coach Don Showalter (USA Basketball), who now owns a perfect 45-0 record at the helm of the USA U16/U17 teams since 2009. “It was one of those things where you don’t plan on having a team that’s going to be as quite as good as this, but every game, they got better and better. We really played well tonight.”
“This is a great honor,” said the ever humble Sexton, who follows previous U17 MVPs Bradley Beal (2010), Justise Winslow (2012) and Malik Newman (2014). “We’ve been working hard since June 10 being able to make the team and then win the gold medal is a big thing in itself.”
Turkey started strong and attempted to take the USA out of its fast-paced style game with physical play. That resulted in the Turks being whistled for five fouls – three on Furkan Ayka, who earned his first start and averaged 1.0 points and 11.8 minutes per game in Turkey’s first six games – by the 7:29 mark.
That’s when the tide turned, however.
Trailing 8-2, Carter scored four straight to close to 8-6 at 7:07.
Sexton checked in at 6:59 and immediately made an impact, going to the hoop after a Troy Brown (Centennial H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) steal, which knotted the score at 8-all.
“Coach always told me to come off the bench with energy, play defense, pick up a man full court and just do the small things, and it will pay off in the end,” said Sexton.
After a stop, Kevin Knox II (Tampa Catholic H.S./Riverview, Fla.) drained with a 3-pointer and it was evident that there was no slowing down the Americans. Grabbing a board on the other end, Carter heaved a pass down to Gary Trent Jr. (Apple Valley H.S./Burnsville, Minn.) for a score and then got a steal and dunk to make the score 15-8 at 4:26.
“They attacked us early,” said Showalter. “I think it was 8-2 or something and then our defense just swarmed them. They missed some shots, we would rebound and be able to run in transition off those rebounds. This group is such a good transition group that it’s hard to keep up when you have 12 guys who can all do the same thing.”
Turkey called a timeout following a USA turnover, but it didn’t help as Sexton scored eight points as the USA closed the quarter on top, 25-10.
“I feel like having 12 great players come out and everyone I feel like can play or start on any team in the world, so with our bench being a lot deeper, we were able to come out and attack them more aggressively as we were supposed to,” said Troy Brown. “Even though being down a couple points in the beginning, we rallied to get our momentum back.”
By the first break, the USA had hit a sizzling 64.7 percent (11-17 FGs) from the field, while holding Turkey to a paltry 26.3 percent (5-19 FGs) shooting.
The depth of the American team was simply too much for Turkey to handle and by halftime the USA’s lead was 30 points, 50-20.
From there, the U.S. continued to keep Turkey at bay, owning a 73-36 lead at the end of the third quarter before easing up in the fourth for the 40-point victory.
Fittingly, in a display of teamwork all 12 members of the U.S. squad scored, including Trent, who had a game-high 17 points. Troy Brown and Markus Howard (Findlay Prep, Nev./Chandler, Ariz.) finished just off double digits with nine points apiece.
Knox, who scored eight points, had a game-high four of the USA’s 20 steals.
The Americans finished the game shooting 48.0 percent (36-75 FGs) from the field and 29.2 percent (7-24 3pt FGs) from 3-point, while Turkey improved slightly to 31.5 percent on the night (23-73 FGs) and just 13.3 percent (2-15 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc.
Not only did the USA run the table to finish with a perfect 7-0 record, the squad outrebounded opponents in all seven games, including 51-39 in the gold medal game. Further, the Americans outscored Turkey 24-15 in points off turnovers, 54-36 points in the paint and its bench provided another dominating performance to outscore Turkey’s bench 47-38.
Canada (6-1) ran past France (4-3) 99-68 to finish in fifth place, while Australia (3-4) finished in seventh with an 83-76 win over South Korea (3-4).
Assisting Showalter and the U17 team are prep head coaches Mike Jones (DeMatha Catholic H.S., Md.) and Miles Simon (California Supreme AAU).
Athletes eligible for this team must be 17 years old or younger (born on or after 1/1/99) and U.S. citizens.
FIBA U17 World Championship for Men
First held in 2010, the FIBA U17 World Championship features the world’s top 17-year-old and younger players. FIBA currently holds U17 World Championships every two years. Under the direction of Showalter, the USA earned the gold medal in the first three editions, compiling a perfect 23-0 record overall.
In the inaugural (2010) FIBA U17 World Championship for Men, the USA captured gold with a perfect 8-0 record and Bradley Beal was tabbed MVP. In 2012, Jahlil Okafor earned MVP honors and was joined on the all-tournament team by Justise Winslow as the U.S. again captured gold. Most recently the U.S. made it three-straight golds as Malik Newman earned tournament MVP honors and Diamond Stone listed on the all-tournament team.