Suffocating Defense Propels USA U17 Men Past China 115-37 in Record-Setting Win
Forcing 43 turnovers, the USA U17 Men (1-0) opened play in the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup in spectacular fashion – racing to a 115-37 win against China (0-1) that saw all 12 U.S. players score before halftime.
The USA, which converted 61 points off of turnovers, limited China to just 27.5 shooting (14-51 FGs) from the field, and three U17 single-game records were set in the victory.
The USA set an overall event and U.S. high for steals with 29, and De'Vion Harmon’s (Guyer H.S./Corinth, Texas) 3-of-3 performance from 3-point was a U.S. 3-point percentage record in men’s U17 play.
“Obviously, we caused a lot of disruption to their offense,” said USA U17 head coach Don Showalter (USA Basketball youth division coach director). “We were right there in passing lanes, and we made it pretty difficult for them. I was really pleased with the way we started the second half. Sometimes when you have a nice lead in the first half, you come out in the second half and don’t play at a high level. But, I thought the kids played a such a high level through all four quarters tonight.”
Seven players reached double-digit scoring. Harmon led the way for the U.S. with 17 points and four steals; Isaiah Stewart (La Lumiere School, Ind./Rochester, N.Y.) recorded a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double; R.J. Hampton (Little Elm H.S./Little Elm, Texas) added 13 points; Vernon Carey Jr. (University School/Southwest Ranches, Fla.) contributed 12 points and six rebounds; Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.) scored 12 points to go with a game-high five assists; Jalen Green (San Joaquin Memorial H.S./Fresno, Calif.) added 11 points; and Evan Mobley (Rancho Christian H.S./Temecula, Calif.) contributed 10 points.
“We came out from the tip,” Harmon said. “Coach Showalter said before the game, no excuses. We have 12 of the best high school players in the world all on one team, and we have USA on the front of our chests. It was a great crowd tonight. We didn’t worry about playing China, we worried about playing our game, playing USA Basketball, and it showed tonight in a big way.”
The USA lead from start to finish after opening with a 24-1 lead. The USA allowed China just one field goal in the first quarter and ended the period with a 33-5 advantage.
China’s best stretch was in the second period, when it scored 17 points to the USA’s 29 points, but that was the only quarter in which it tallied more than nine points.
The USA outscored China 53-15 in the second half. The 100th point was scored by Stewart with 3:24 to play, and the USA’s largest lead of the game, 79 points, came with just under a minute left when the scoreboard read 113-34.
“Coach told us to respect our opponent by playing hard the whole time and not letting up, and that’s what we did,” said Romeo Weems (New Haven H.S./New Haven, Mich.), who grabbed a game-best five steals to go with six points.
The USA men continue preliminary round play against Mali (0-1) at 4:45 p.m. EDT on July 1 and Serbia (1-0) at 7 p.m. EDT on July 3. All of the USA’s games in the FIBA U17 World Cup will be streamed live on the USA Basketball Facebook page at facebook.com/usabasketball.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Scott Fitch (Fairport H.S., N.Y.) and Stan Waterman (Sanford School, Del.).
Also today in the USA’s Group B, Serbia fended off Mali 89-77. In Group A, Australia (1-0) edged past Dominican Republic (0-1) 73-71, and Puerto Rico (1-0) won against Turkey (0-1) 76-68. Group C saw Egypt (1-0) earn a 64-50 win over New Zealand (0-1), and Canada (1-0) cruised past Montenegro (0-1) 92-67. Finally, in Group D, Croatia (1-0) beat the Philippines (0-1) 97-75, and France (1-0) topped Argentina (0-1) 82-50.
Following the preliminary round, all teams will advance to the round of 16 on July 4. Round of 16 winners advance to the July 6 medal quarterfinals. The semifinals will be played on July 7, and the finals will be contested on July 8.