USA Men's U18 Team Runs Past Panama 118-26
Taking advantage of a 6-inch average height advantage, the USA Men’s U18 National Team (2-0) outscored Panama (0-2) 45-0 over the opening 10:35 and never looked back en route to a 118-26 victory at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Monday night in St. Catharines, Ontario.
All 12 U.S. team members scored between four and 17 points, with five in double digits in points and two more who grabbed double-digit rebounds.
“We just wanted to keep our foot on the gas and just play hard, not so much worry about our opponent as much as worry about getting better as a team,” said Armando Bacot (Trinity Episcopal School/Richmond, Va.), who shot 6-of-9 from the field and finished as the game’s top scorer with 17 points. “We’re still learning the things we need to know to keep going on in this championship.”
The USA received 14 points from Cole Anthony (Archbishop Molloy H.S./Briarwood, N.Y.), also on 6-of-9 shooting; and Ayo Dosunmu (Morgan Park H.S./Chicago, Ill.), Trayce Jackson-Davis (Center Grove H.S./Greenwood, Ind.) and Tyrese Maxey (South Garland H.S./Dallas, Texas) each chipped in 12 points.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Bishop Miege H.S./Shawnee Mission, Kan.) hauled in 13 rebounds to go with six points and five assists, and Kamaka Hepa (Jefferson H.S./Barrow, Alaska) grabbed 11 boards. Additionally, Coby White (Greenfield H.S./Goldsboro, N.C.), one of four players with eight points, dished out seven assists.
The USA U18 Men’s National Team concludes preliminary round play versus also-unbeaten Puerto Rico (2-0) to determine which nation will claim Group A’s top seed for the quarterfinals. Puerto Rico defeated Dominican Republic (1-1) 108-94 earlier in the day.
“Don’t play the score, try play to win each possession. A lot of coach-speak,” said USA U18 and University of Kansas head coach Bill Self on what he stressed to his team once the game was in hand. “I thought our guys actually did a pretty decent job. I’ve never seen a score like that after one quarter. After that, they still tried to play the right way.”
After a 43-0 first quarter, Hepa got a put-back at 9:25 in the second period to give the USA its largest lead of the first half, 45-0.
Panama put its first points on the board, a jumper, with 7:57 to play in the first half (45-2).
At halftime the USA’s lead was 70-8.
“A game like this allows us to work on executing plays,” said Quentin Grimes (College Park H.S./The Woodlands, Texas), who scored nine points in the victory. “We have to really focus on going out there and executing, because when we play a really good team, we want to be able to go out there and execute.”
The U.S. outscored Panama 29-9 in the third and 19-9 in the fourth.
The USA dished out an impressive 38 assists on 47 field goals, outscored the smaller Panamanian squad 70-10 in the paint and owned a 63-37 rebounding advantage. Further, the USA scored 32 points off of 27 turnovers, outscored Panama 22-4 on second-chance points, 49-2 in points in transition and 69-15 in points off the bench.
“We were just trying to go out there and get better, honestly,” said Maxey. “We were trying to work on our stuff. We’ll see some real competition tomorrow. We have Puerto Rico and they’re 2-0 as well, and we’re trying to win this pool.”
“Puerto Rico, we scrimmaged them the other day and they didn’t show us anything,” said Self. “They run a lot of stuff. They beat Dominican pretty handedly, and we struggled with the Dominican Republic last night through the fourth quarter, so it’ll be a good game. They can shoot, and hopefully we’ll pressure them out of being comfortable.”
“They have a lot of good guards and some bigs, too,” added Bacot. “But, we just know that if we play our game and we play hard, we don’t think anybody can beat us.”
In Group B, Argentina (1-1) surged past Chile (1-1) in the fourth quarter for a 76-66 win and host Canada (2-0) sailed past Ecuador (0-2) 115-75.
Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded within each group, and all eight teams advance to the June 14 quarterfinal games. The semifinals will be played June 15, and the finals on June 16. The top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.
Self is assisted by Anthony Grant (Dayton) and Danny Manning (Wake Forest).
FIBA Americas U18 Championship
Originally known as the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifier, the tournament was held every four years between 1990-2006. FIBA changed its calendar following the 2006 championship, and the tournament is now conducted every other year, followed in the next summer, for nations that advance, by the FIBA U19 World Cup.
Including its first two victories in 2018, USA men’s teams are 55-2 in the FIBA Americas U18 Championships and won gold in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, while capturing silver in 2008 and bronze in 2002.
Some of the most notable USA U18 alumni include: Carmelo Anthony (2002), Chris Bosh (2002), Markelle Fultz (2016), Quade Green (2016), Grant Hill (1990), Allan Houston (1990), Andre Iguodala (2002), Kyrie Irving (2010), Stephon Marbury (1994), Michael Porter Jr. (2016), Austin Rivers (2010), Kyle Singler (2006), Marcus Smart (2012), Deron Williams (2002) and Justise Winslow (2014).
Be sure to watch all the games, streamed live on USA Basketball’s Facebook page, as the USA competes for a fifth-straight U18 gold medal.