USA Men Claim Fifth-Straight FIBA U17 World Cup Gold Medal with 95-52 Victory Over France
Taking down previously undefeated France (6-1) with a dominant 95-52 win, the USA men (7-0) captured a fifth-straight FIBA U17 World Cup gold medal on July 8 at Union Athletic Club in Santa Fe, Argentina. The USA men are now a sterling 37-0 all-time in FIBA U17 World Cup action.
The USA, which was in control from the start, forced 24 turnovers and outrebounded France 58-26. Grabbing 31 offensive boards, the USA outrebounded France on the offensive glass alone, which led to 31 points.
In the bronze medal game, Puerto Rico (5-2) defeated Canada (5-2) 90-77.
“I thought it was kind of a methodical win for us,” said USA U17 head coach Don Showalter (USA Basketball youth division coach director). “We just stretched out the lead. There weren’t as many runs as we normally have, but we just extended the lead every quarter. I think we were really solid.
“Wow,” Showalter said of his 2018 squad. “This team, from day one, I knew they could be special, and they certainly ended up being a special group. They are probably as good as any U17 team that we have had, from a standpoint of how well they get along with one another. They are great teammates. They are very coachable. All of those things make a special team.”
Jalen Green (San Joaquin Memorial H.S./Fresno, Calif.), who finished with 11 points against France, was named MVP of the tournament, and he was joined on the all-tournament team by Vernon Carey Jr. (University School/Southwest Ranches, Fla.), who added nine points and nine rebounds in the win. The all-tournament team was rounded out by Oumar Ballo from Mali, Rodriguez Curbelo from Puerto Rico and Killian Hayes from France.
In all seven of the USA’s games, all available players scored. Isaiah Stewart (La Lumiere School, Ind./Rochester, N.Y.) led the way recording 15 points and nine rebounds; Harmon posted 14 points; Romeo Weems (New Haven H.S./New Haven, Mich.) accounted for 12 points and nine boards; and Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.) contributed in nine points.
“It’s a great thing,” Green said of his MVP honor. “Last year, we came down here, played together and Vernon (Carey Jr.) got the MVP. I came out here, showed off my hard work and it worked.”
Behind six points from De'Vion Harmon (Guyer H.S./Corinth, Texas) and five more from Green, the USA sprinted out to 23-14 lead after the game’s first 10 minutes.
Keeping the intensity and pressure up offensively and defensively, the U.S. opened up a 20-point lead at halftime, 45-25, with 34 points coming in the paint and 45.2 percent shooting from the field.
The USA U17 men proved unstoppable at the FIBA U17 World Cup rolling up a spotless 7-0 record to capture a fifth-straight gold medal in the competition. Averaging 107.0 points a game, the USA outscored its seven opponents by an average of 53.7 points a game. The closest margin of victory for the Americans was 32 points versus Serbia (93-61).
“I think we played really well,” Harmon said. “This was a long process. To end a tournament in a big way – I’m just so happy to be a part of this and be a part of this team. It was so much fun.”
With Showalter at the helm of every USA U16 and U17 team since the inception of the competitions in 2009, the USA has now compiled a remarkable 62-0 record and won all five FIBA U17 World Cups and all five FIBA Americas U16 Championships.
The USA’s assistant coaches were Scott Fitch (Fairport H.S., N.Y.) and Stan Waterman (Sanford School, Del.).
“It never gets old,” Showalter said. “You always enjoy the different kids each year and how they progress. It certainly means a lot. I’m very humbled and thankful to be a part of USA Basketball and coaching. I had great assistants this year in Scott Fitch and Stan Waterman, which really made everything come together.”
In the fifth-place game Turkey (4-2) edged past Australia (4-2) 81-77. The seventh-place game saw Croatia (4-3) win against Montenegro (3-4) 74-66. In the ninth-place game, Dominican Republic (3-4) topped Serbia (4-3) 82-77. The 11th place game saw Argentina (3-4) defeat Mali (2-5) 70-69. For 13th place, Philippines (2-5) beat New Zealand (1-6) 73-51. And, in the 15th place game, China (1-6) earned its first win over Egypt (1-6) 68-63.