Impressive 126-52 Win Over Croatia Propels USA U17 Men into Semifinals
Recording 100 points in the paint and featuring eight players in double-digit scoring, the USA U17 Men (5-0) put together a spectacular 126-52 defeat of Croatia (3-2) in the FIBA U17 World Cup quarterfinals on July 6 at Union Athletic Club in Santa Fe, Argentina.
With the win, USA advanced to the FIBA U17 World Cup semifinals, where it will meet also-unbeaten Canada (5-0) at 7:30 p.m. (all times listed are EDT) on July 7. The USA’s semifinal game will be available in the United States on ESPN+.
The other semifinal matchup will feature Puerto Rico (4-1) versus France (5-0) at 5 p.m. The semifinal winners will meet in the gold medal game at 7:30 p.m. on July 8.
“I felt during warm ups that our kids were really primed for this game tonight,” said USA U17 head coach Don Showalter (USA Basketball youth division coach director). “We are at the point now where you can’t play poorly. I think our team kind of wanted to prove that we are ready to contend for a medal. This was really a big game for us to get to that semifinal.
“The main thing is they played for each other. A great example is when Jalen Green got hot, they kept feeding him the basketball. So, there wasn’t any selfishness. I thought they really did a great job of making the extra pass. And, obviously, they played really hard on defense – causing a lot of turnovers and disrupting their offense. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a U17 team play to this level that these guys did tonight for a full game.”
Jalen Green (San Joaquin Memorial H.S./Fresno, Calif.), who in the fourth quarter heated up to shoot 5-of-6 from 3-point and score 23 points, finished with 27 points, which lists second in the USA men’s U17 single-game record books, behind only Michael Gilchrest’s 30 points in 2010.
Additionally, the USA, which shot 60.4 percent from the field (55-91 FGs) tied the USA men’s U17 single-game record for made field goals with 55 made baskets.
“We came out with energy – energy off the bench, energy on the court,” Green said. “We just wanted to win the game. We had something to prove.”
Scottie Barnes (University School/West Palm Beach, Fla.) finished with 17 points and nine rebounds; Evan Mobley (Rancho Christian H.S./Temecula, Calif.) added 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks; Vernon Carey Jr. (University School/Southwest Ranches, Fla.) contributed 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks; Wendell Moore Jr. (Cox Mill H.S./Charlotte, N.C.) was 6-of-7 from the field on his way to 12 points; Romeo Weems (New Haven H.S./New Haven, Mich.) had a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double and also dished out four assists; De'Vion Harmon (Guyer H.S./Corinth, Texas) scored 10 points to go with five assists; and Isaiah Stewart (La Lumiere School, Ind./Rochester, N.Y.) finished with 10 points and six boards.
Eighty of the USA’s points were tallied by non-starters, and as a team the USA dished out 25 assists while forcing 30 Croatian turnovers. The USA also won the rebounding battle 57-28.
“We just came out with a lot of energy, and it carried all the way down the bench,” Moore said. “So, I think we had a great game tonight.”
The USA led 24-12 after the first quarter, and then broke the game open midway through the second period. Leading 30-20, the USA closed the first half with a 33-2 run that featured nine different U.S. scorers, including six points apiece from Mobley, Moore and Stewart, and at the midway point, the USA was up 63-22.
The USA continued to cruise in the second half, outscoring Croatia 25-11 in the third before Green’s explosive fourth quarter, which helped the Americas outscore Croatia 38-19.
In all five of the USA’s games, all 11 available U.S. players have scored.
R.J. Hampton (Little Elm H.S./Little Elm, Texas) did not play due to a right foot injury, and he is listed as day-to-day.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Scott Fitch (Fairport H.S., N.Y.) and Stan Waterman (Sanford School, Del.).
In today’s other medal quarterfinals, Canada defeated Australia (3-2) 74-70; France topped Turkey (3-2) 86-70; and Puerto Rico beat Montenegro (3-2) 75-60.
The classification quarterfinals saw Serbia (3-2) win against New Zealand (0-5) 78-51; Mali (2-3) cruise past Philippines (0-5) 95-59; Dominican Republic (1-4) edge out Egypt (1-4) 67-65; and Argentina (2-3) won against China (0-5) 95-69.