Hot-Handed USA U16 Men Sprint To 121-49 Semifinal Victory Over Argentina
-- U.S. To Meet Canada In Gold Medal Contest --
Shooting a sizzling 60.0 percent on the night and racing to a 71-21 halftime lead, the 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team (4-0) took down host Argentina (2-2) 121-49 on Saturday night in Formosa, Argentina. The victory set up a North American gold medal contest against also-unbeaten Canada (4-0). The win also advances the USA to its fifth-straight FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Men gold medal game, with the July 18 tip-off set for at 8 pm EDT.
Argentina will face Puerto Rico (2-2), which fell to Canada 81-66 earlier in the evening, in Sunday’s bronze medal match (5:45 p.m. EDT).
The gold medal game will be streamed live on Facebook.com/USABasketball, and all four of Sunday’s games will be streamed live online at YouTube.com/FIBA.
Scottie Barnes (Cardinal Newman H.S./West Palm Beach, Fla.) scored a game-high 20 points and had six of the USA’s U16 men’s record 26 steals. He also set a USA U16 men’s record by hitting a perfect 8-of-8 from the line, which surpassed the 6-of-6 record by Sterling Gibbs in 2009 and his free throws made equaled the eight made by Jordan Brown in 2015.
“I knew it was a big game that would get us into the gold medal game,” said Barnes. “Coaches just wanted us to go in and play our hearts out and show our respect to Argentina. I felt that I should play my heart out and give it all I’ve got for my team and for my country.”
All 12 members of the USA squad got on the scoreboard, including Romeo Weems (New Haven H.S./Chesterfield, Mich.) with 17 points; De'Vion Harmon (John Guyer H.S./Corinth, Texas) and Jeremy Roach (Paul VI Catholic H.S./Leesburg, Va.) scored 12 points apiece; Jalen Green (San Joaquin Memorial H.S./Fresno, Calif.) notched 11; and Vern Carey Jr. (University School/Southwest Ranches, Fla.) and James Wiseman (The Ensworth School/Nashville, Tenn.) chipped in 10 points apiece.
De’Vion Harmon dished out four of the USA’s 15 assists, and Roach and Isaiah Todd (John Marshall H.S./Richmond, Va.) were credited for three steals each.
For the fourth time in as many games, the USA struck first and never trailed. After opening with a 6-0 spurt, Argentina got its first five points from the line to cut it to 6-5. However, an 8-0 run sparked a 24-4 scoring spree that left the North Americans with a comfortable 30-9 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
“Our first goal was to come out and really deliver the first punch, so to speak,” said USA U16 head coach Don Showalter, who has guided the previous four USA U16 men’s teams to gold. “We wanted to score first, get into it defensively and take away everything they wanted to do. Coach Waterman and coach Fitch had a great game plan. They did a great job letting the kids know what to expect from an Argentine team than was much better than the score indicated.
“Canada has played very well this tournament. They have some really good shooters. Their perimeter game is really good. They’re going to be ready for us, no question about that. It’s going to be a great gold medal game.”
After spotting Argentina a point from the line in the opening minute of the second quarter, the U.S. strung together an 18-2 run that put the visitors up 48-12 with 5:29 still to play in the half.
“We wanted to come out and give them the first punch, because we knew they were going to have a good crowd,” said Roach. “We knew they were going to be into it, so we just wanted to come out with great energy. It felt good, though. Their crowd was really getting into it. It was fun.”
By the midway break the USA’s lead was up to 71-21, leaving little doubt as to the outcome, only the final score.
By halftime all 12 members of the red, white and blue squad were in the scorebook, led by 14 points from Barnes and 10 from Roach, as the team combined to shoot a red-hot 69.2 percent (27-39 FGs) from the field. Also at the half, the USA’s rebounding margin was 23-9, and the USA, which was credited with 16 steals by halftime, had scored 35 points off of 22 Argentine turnovers.
The U.S. outscored Argentina 18-11 in the third quarter and 32-17 in the fourth to bring the game to a close.
In being credited for 26 steals, the team set a USA U16 men’s record. The previous high-water mark was 25 steals set by the 2015 USA U16 squad against Dominican Republic.
Finishing the contest shooting an even 60 percent (45-75 FGs) from the field, the USA scored 54 points off 38 Argentina turnovers, outscored the South Americans 70-10 in the paint, 22-5 on second-chance points and 75-18 off the bench.
“Canada has played very well this tournament,” said Showalter. “They have some really good shooters. Their perimeter game is really good. They’re going to be ready for us, no question about that. It’s going to be a great gold medal game.”
“(We have to) bring good energy like we have been doing all four games,” added Roach on the USA’s plan against Canada. “We also need to rebound, play good defense, get out on the break, just play hard.”
In classification semifinal games today, Dominican Republic (2-2) defeated Venezuela (0-4) 71-57, and Mexico (1-3) picked up its first win with a 71-60 defeat of Paraguay (1-3). Dominican Republic and Mexico will compete for fifth place, while Paraguay will go up against Venezuela for seventh place.
Argentina, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United States have booked a ticket to the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup, which will be hosted by Argentina in Rosario and Santa Fe. Because Argentina is hosting the event, there is more than national pride on the line for the fifth-place finisher – the winner also will punch its ticket to the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup.
USA Basketball has claimed the gold medal in all four editions of the biennial event, which was first held in 2009, and under the direction of Showalter, the USA is now 24-0 in FIBA Americas U16 Championship action. Additionally, USA U16 men’s teams have scored 100 or more points in 19 of 24 games all-time at the competition.
Showalter is being assisted on the sideline by Scott Fitch (Fairport H.S., N.Y.) and Stan Waterman (Sanford School, Del.).
As of March 1, 2017, 13 of the 48 former USA U16 National Team members were under contract in the NBA, four were competing professionally in international leagues, 20 were competing in the NCAA and 11 were still in high school.
|2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship|