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Mark Watts

USA Men's U18 Team Vanquishes Puerto Rico 115-71

  • Date:
    Jun 12, 2018

The USA Men’s U18 National Team (3-0) opened up a 15-point first-quarter lead, led 56-29 at halftime and sprinted on to post a 115-71 victory over Puerto Rico (2-1) at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Monday night in St. Catharines, Ontario.

The win earned the USA the top seed out of Group A heading into the June 14-16 knock-out round where it will face Group B’s fourth-place finisher Ecuador (0-3) at 6 p.m. (EDT) June 14.

The USA in its three preliminary round games scored over 100 points in each contest and has averaged 112.7 points game.

Quentin Grimes (College Park H.S./The Woodlands, Texas) led all scorers with 20 points, Coby White (Greenfield H.S./Goldsboro, N.C.) added 15 points, Cole Anthony (Archbishop Molloy H.S./Briarwood, N.Y.) tallied 14 points, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Bishop Miege H.S./Shawnee Mission, Kan.) was credited with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds , Matthew Hurt (John Marshall H.S./Rochester, Minn.) scored 12 points and Mark Watts Jr. (Old Redford Academy/Detroit, Mich.) finished with 11 points.

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“It’s been a really fun team to coach,” said USA U18 and University of Kansas head coach Bill Self. “In the second half tonight we didn’t share the ball like we had been. We’ve been really good at sharing the ball and we still had 32 assists, but it’s a fun team. They’re great kids. For only being together a week I think they handled themselves pretty well.

“We didn’t create much at all from our defense today,” Self added. “Yesterday we could have scored a lot (more points off of our defense). But today our defense really didn’t create a lot of stuff. Puerto Rico did a great job of handling the ball against our full-court man. We’ve got enough weapons that we can put some points on the board. I thought we played bad offensively and then you look up and you still shot 51 percent and had 32 assists, so that’s pretty good.”

Leading from wire-to-wire, the USA got out to an early 14-4 lead. After a Puerto Rico bucket made it 14-6, the U.S. scored seven-straight points to go up 21-6 and never again let the lead fall below double digits.

At the end of the first quarter, which finished with the USA up 31-18, the U.S. had forced Puerto Rico into nine of its 22 turnovers of the night and had dished out 10 assists on 11 buckets.

The second quarter was much of the same as the USA opened with a 14-4 run to expand its lead 45-22 and cruised to its 56-29 halftime score.

Puerto Rico won the third quarter 24-22, but was never a threat to the U.S., which outscored the islanders 37-18 in the final stanza to close with the 44-point victory.

It was another balanced scoring effort in which 11 members of the team put up points and five had four or more assists, which Grimes says is important to his team’s success.

“We want everybody to have a good feel for the game going into possibly the championship game,” Grimes said. “We want to make sure everybody’s confidence is high, so we can go out there and play as a team and get the job done.”

“I think it’s great,” added Robinson-Earl of the team’s chemistry. “Since we’re hanging out all the time, we’re comfortable and we can trust each other. I feel like we’re confident that when we pass the ball to each other that we’re going to knock down shots and make the right plays for each other.”

Anthony, Josiah James (Porter-Gaud School/Charleston, S.C.), who contributed five points and six boards, and Ayo Dosunmu (Morgan Park H.S./Chicago, Ill.), who scored nine points, led the team with five assists apiece; Grimes and White dished out four assists each.

Shooting 51.2 percent from the field and making 10-of-25 3-point shots versus Puerto Rico, the USA was credited with an assist on 32 of 42 made baskets. The USA also dominated the glass, outrebounding Puerto Rico 50-35.

In the day’s other games, Argentina (2-1) defeated Ecuador 82-61, Dominican Republic (1-2) picked up a 90-54 victory over Panama (0-3) and host Canada (3-0) closed out the day with a 97-60 victory over Chile (1-2).

In a new format for the U18 tournament this year, teams were seeded based on their preliminary results and all eight advance to the June 14 quarterfinal games.

The other quarterfinal match-ups will be Puerto Rico versus Chile, Dominican Republic versus Argentina and Panama will take on Canada.

Should the U.S. win, it will play the winner of the Dominican Republic versus Argentina contest in the June 15 semifinals for the right to advance to the June 16 gold medal game.

“The real tournament starts Thursday,” said White. “We’re going to play some really good teams. For us to come together is going to be really important.”

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 56-2 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).

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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.

 

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