USA U18 Men Cruise Past U.S. Virgin Islands 107-63
Finishing with 35 assists on 41 made baskets, the 2016 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team (2-0) easily defeated the U.S. Virgin Islands (0-2) 107-63 in the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Wednesday afternoon in Valdivia, Chile.
“I thought our guys did some good things,” said USA U18 and University of Texas head coach Shaka Smart. “I really thought we played well together, in terms of passing the basketball – 35 assists. We did a nice job against their zone of finding open pockets and making the extra pass. I thought that first group of five guys really set the tone by playing unselfishly, and then in the second half, that group did a terrific job on the defensive end. For parts of the game, we let them get loose from outside. They shot 44 3s, so they are going make some of them, but we need to do a better job of contesting.”
The USA opened with a 10-0 run, and Virgin Islands didn’t make a basket from the field until 3:40 into the game to bring the score to 14-4. With the USA leading 20-12, two free throws from Trae Young (Norman North H.S./Norman, Okla.) were the start of an 8-0 spurt that gave the USA a 28-12 advantage with 1:28 left in the first quarter. Virgin Islands made two 3-pointers, but Michael Porter Jr. (Father Tolton Catholic H.S./Columbia, Mo.) scored once more for the USA to make it 30-18 at the first quarter break.
Porter Jr. had nine of his game-high 20 points in the first period, while the U.S. defense forced 11 turnovers.
The teams traded baskets to start the second quarter before the USA put together another 8-0 streak to lead 43-25 when Virgin Islands called a timeout at 4:51. The U.S. Virgin Islands made a three out of the break, but the USA did not let up. After four points from Jarrett Allen (St. Stephen's Episcopal School/Round Rock, Texas) and another 3 from Virgin Islands, the USA scored nine unanswered points and led 56-31 with 1:20 before halftime. From there, Young hit a 3 and Hamidou Diallo (Putnam Science Academy/Corona, N.Y.) scored, while the Virgin Islands tallied four points to make it 58-35 at the midway point.
By halftime, the USA already had recorded 18 assists on 23 field goals.
“I think we did alright,” said Diallo, who had 14 points and four rebounds. “We could have done a lot of things better. We could have moved the ball more, and we could have played better defense in the first half. But, we ended up getting a great win.”
The U.S. defense, which forced 33 turnovers overall in the game, held the Virgin Islands scoreless for 4:30 to start the second half, and the U.S. offense put up 12 points to lead 70-35. Virgin Islands’ Jahkeele Stevens, who shot 6-of-18 from deep in the game, made a 3-pointer at 5:30, but the USA once again took off on a scoring spree, tallying nine unanswered points to lead 83-38 with 3:21 left in the period. The Virgin Islands responded with its own 14-0 run, and after a fast-break dunk from Diallo, the USA headed into the final 10 minutes with an 85-52 margin.
The fourth quarter started much like the third period had, with the USA defense refusing Virgin Islands any points for the first 4:23, which helped the USA to compile its largest lead of the game, 48 points (100-52), with 6:01 on the clock. The Virgin Islands outscored the USA 11-7 in the last 5:37 to bring the game to its 107-63 final.
“I think we picked up from yesterday, and played with more energy and intensity,” said Matt Coleman III (Oak Hill Academy/Norfolk, Va.), who had five assists. “We got stops when we needed to, and we hit shots. That made the rest of the game easy for all of us.”
Paul ‘P.J.’ Washington Jr. (Findlay Prep, Nev./Frisco, Texas) scored 19 points; Markelle Fultz (DeMatha Catholic H.S./Upper Marlboro, Md.) finished with 11 points and four assists; Allen collected 10 rebounds to go with seven points and four assists; and Young dished out seven assists.
Also today, in the USA’s Group B, Chile (1-0) will play Puerto Rico (0-1) at 8:15 p.m. (EDT). In Group A, Canada (2-0) defeated Dominican Republic (0-2) 87-74, and Brazil (1-0) takes on Argentina (0-1) at 6 p.m. (EDT).
The USA will wrap up preliminary round play on July 21 versus the U.S. Virgin Island. All of the USA games will be live online at YouTube.com/FIBA.
The top two finishing teams from each group advance to the July 22 semifinals, while the bottom two teams will play out for fifth through eighth places. On July 23, the semifinal winners will meet in the gold medal game, and the semifinal losers will play in the bronze medal game.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Kevin Ollie from University of Connecticut and Mark Turgeon from University of Maryland.