USA Men's U18 Team Brings Home Gold, Downs Canada 113-74
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The USA (6-0) withstood an early run from host Canada (5-1) and dominated the game's final 36 minutes to claim a 113-74 victory and the 2018 FIBA Americas Men’s U18 Championship gold medal Saturday night in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
Quentin Grimes (College Park H.S./The Woodlands, Texas), who averaged 14.7 points and 3.8 assists per game, was named tournament MVP. Joining Grimes on the FIBA Americas U18 Championship All-Tournament Team were his U.S. teammates Cole Anthony (Archbishop Molloy H.S./Briarwood, N.Y.) and Coby White (Greenfield H.S./Goldsboro, N.C.), along with Argentina’s Francisco Caffaro and Canda’s Andrew Nembhard.
The USA has captured the last five and nine of the 11 previous FIBA Americas Men’s U18 gold medals and owns a 59-2 all-time win-loss record at the event.
Seven U.S. players scored in double digits. Anthony led the way with 18 points; Grimes and Matthew Hurt (John Marshall H.S./Rochester, Minn.) tossed in 17 points each; Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Bishop Miege H.S./Shawnee Mission, Kan.) added 14 points; Armando Bacot(Trinity Episcopal School/Richmond, Va.) was credited with 13 points; White had 11 points; and Ayo Dosunmu (Morgan Park H.S./Chicago, Ill.) finished with 10 points.
“It feels good,” said USA U18 and University of Kansas head coach Bill Self. “I think that we saved our best for last. I thought we played great the first half, and then kind of pieced together the second half. But, guys played great. They played unselfish, they played hard and defended. And, we caught Canada on a night where they probably weren’t as good as what they have been, obviously, but I do think our energy had something to do with that.”
“It is a feeling I can’t describe,” said Grimes. “It is my first time getting an actual gold medal, playing in a FIBA tournament, playing with a great bunch of guys and going out there and getting the job done.
“I was a little bit surprised,” added Grimes on his MVP honor. “I started out the tournament a little slow, and then coach Self pulled me aside and told me to be a lot more aggressive. And, I kind of played that up, so I guess that helped me get MVP.”
Falling behind 12-7 with 6:23 left in the opening stanza, White scored five consecutive points to help launch the USA on a 12-0 run as the Americans took control 19-12 and owned a 29-20 lead after completion of the first period.
Stomping on the gas pedal, the USA outscored Canada 32-13 in the second quarter and retired to the locker room at halftime holding a 61-33 lead.
“Everything on the floor just started to click, everybody started to click together,” said Anthony recalling the second quarter run. “We, as a team, really started to lock in. We knew we needed to create some separation and we just came through and played our butts off.”
In the decisive second quarter, during which time the USA outscored Canada 32-13, the USA hit a red-hot 52.0 percent (13-25 FGs), while its stifling defense held Canada to a meager 23.8 percent (5-21 FGs) from the floor. During that 10-minute stretch, the U.S. forced four Canada turnovers and converted for eight points.
Holding a nine-point, 33-24 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter, the USA got buckets from Anthony and Grimes to launch a 15-3 run. After Canada netted a 3-pointer, Grimes contributed six points in an 11-0 run that ended with the USA ahead 48-27 with just over four minutes to play until halftime. A 13-6 spurt by the USA closed out the half and left the U.S. owning a 61-33 advantage.
The USA never looked back and sailed on to the convincing 113-74 win.
Canada, which came into the gold medal game leading all teams in rebounding, was outrebounded by the U.S. contingent 58-45. Bacot and Josiah James (Porter-Gaud School/Charleston, S.C.) each grabbed eight rebounds, while Grimes and Robinson-Earl snatched seven boards each.
The USA defense limited Canada to 33.3 percent shooting for the game and forced 18 turnovers.
“They (Anthony, Grimes and White) played great,” said Tyrese Maxey (South Garland H.S./Dallas, Texas), who missed the USA’s quarterfinal and semifinal game due to injury. “They did great this week, and we really needed them to step up, especially yesterday (in the semifinals vs. Argentina). We struggled as a team, and Coby and Q (Grimes) and Cole really stepped up for us.”
“You can always play harder than what you think you’re playing,” summed up White on his overall experience. “You can always give more, compete every possession and never take anything for granted. Just playing with these guys was fun. I’ve never really played on a team like this, but I feel like we gelled and came together like a real brotherhood, like family, quickly. That helped, too.”
Overall the USA led in most of the major team statistical categories in the eight-team field, including points averaged (114.5 ppg.), margin of victory (+49.3 ppg.), scoring defense (65.2 ppg.), field goal percentage (.533), free throw percentage (.752), defensive field goal percentage (.340), rebounding defense (35.3 rpg. allowed), rebounding margin (+18.0 rpg.), blocked shots (6.83 bpg.), assists (29.0 apg.), steals (12.0 spg.), turnover margin (+9.17) and assist to turnover ratio (2.23.).
In the day's earlier games, Argentina (4-2) earned the bronze medal with an 87-79 victory over Puerto Rico (3-3), Chile took fifth place after edging Dominican Republic (2-4) 69-63 and Panama (1-5) picked up its first win for seventh place after surpassing Ecuador (0-6) 66-51.
Self was 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 all six of its games in 2018, USA men’s teams are 59-2 in the FIBA Americas U18 Championships and won gold in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018, 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).