USA Basketball U16 Men Power Past Mexico 104-52
The USA improved to 2-0 at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship with a 104-52 win over Mexico (0-2) on June 4 at the Guilherme Paraense Arena in Belém, Brazil.
Amari Bailey (Sierra Canyon H.S./Chatsworth, Calif.) led the USA with 21 points, including 8-of-8 shooting from the free throw line, to go with his six assists; Jalen Duren (Roman Catholic H.S., Pa./New Castle, Del.) had 18 points, 17 rebounds and five assists; Richard Isaacs Jr. (Coronado H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) added 15 points; and Max Christie (Rolling Meadows H.S./Arlington Heights, Ill.) chipped in 12 points.
“We played very good defense today,” said USA U16 head coach Mike Jones (DeMatha Catholic H.S., Md.). “I think they had six or seven shot-clock violations. So, to not only play defense, but we stayed committed to it for the full 24 seconds. We rebounded the ball well. We had some guys who maybe didn’t have their best games yesterday really step up for us today.
“We had 31 assists and 12 turnovers. With the way we played, that’s a good number. Guys were willing to share the ball and not care about who made the basket, just trying to play as well as we can. If we keep doing that, we have a great chance to be successful here.”
“We had more energy today,” added Bailey. “We were more locked into our game plan. We thought about ‘us’ instead of ‘me.’”
The game was close in the first quarter, with the USA leading by just four points, 19-15, after the first 10 minutes.
The USA in the second period, however, outscored Mexico 35-13 to lead 54-28 at halftime and Duren’s double-double was on the books with a 14-point, 11-rebound effort in the first half.
“It was just my usual play,” said Duren. “I just got back to myself. This is nothing new. This is what I do. Last game, it wasn’t really me. Today I got back into my flow, got back into my game.”
“He was dominant, which is how he should be,” quipped Isaacs. “He dunks everything in the paint, which is how he should every game.”
The third quarter was more of the same, as the USA added 30 points while limiting Mexico to just eight points to lead 84-36 with 10 minutes to play.
Late in the third period, Isaacs connected on a trio of 3s in a span of 1:16, bringing his teammates on the bench to their feet each time.
“Pop Pop’s a knock-down shooter,” Bailey said of Isaacs. “He’s the best shooting point guard in our class, so him being able to knock down shots makes it easier on all of us.”
Mexico nearly kept pace with the USA in the fourth period, scoring 16 points to the USA’s 20, and the game ended with the USA earning a 104-52 victory.
In addition to Bailey’s six assists, Dillon Hunter (Westlake H.S./Atlanta, Ga.) also dished out six, while scoring nine points, as the U.S. squad totaled 31 dimes on 36 made field goals.
Defensively, the USA scored 37 points off of 23 Mexican turnovers and held Mexico to 31.8 percent (21-66 FGs) from the field and a frigid 9.5 percent (2-21 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc.
“When you’re getting shots from your defense, the game really gets fun,” said Isaacs. “We just have to make it a priority to play defense. We held them to single digits in one quarter, which is what coach wanted, so that was good.”
Additionally, the USA outrebounded Mexico 56-34, outscored Mexico 38-13 on the fast break and 45-12 points off the bench.
Bailey’s free throw shooting upped the USA’s U16 single-game record, which had been held by Sterling Gibbs, who went 6-of-6 from the line against Puerto Rico in 2009. As a team, the USA’s 81.5 percent (22-27 FTs) from the line broke the previous record of 78.9 percent (30-38 FTs) set by the 2015 team against Argentina.
“It’s our first international competition together,” said Jones. “I think going through it yesterday, dealing with the adversity that we did, that experience was priceless. We came out today playing the way USA Basketball is supposed to play and I think we now understand even more the standard that we’re held to, and we’re going to do everything we can each night to live up to that standard.”
The USA will wrap up preliminary round play against Dominican Republic (1-0) at 12:30 p.m. EDT on June 5.
All games are being streamed live online at Facebook.com/USABasketball and YouTube.com/FIBA.
Puerto Rico (1-1) defeated Uruguay (0-2) 69-58. Dominican Republic (1-0) plays Argentina (0-1) and Brazil (1-0) takes on Canada (1-0) later this afternoon.
Following the June 3-5 preliminary round, all eight teams will advance to the quarterfinals on June 7, the semifinals will be played on June 8 and the gold medal game will be played on June 9.
AJ Griffin (Archbishop Stepinac H.S./Ossining, N.Y.) has a sore left hamstring and is listed as day-to-day.
Assisting Jones and the U16 squad are high school head coaches Eric Flannery (St. Edward H.S., Ohio) and Sharman White (Pace Academy, Ga.).
The USA U16 National Team is competing in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Men in hopes of securing a sixth-straight gold medal and berth to the 2020 FIBA U17 World Cup.
Players eligible for this team must be 16 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 2003) and U.S. citizens.
2019 FIBA Americans U16 Championship for Men
USA Basketball has claimed the gold medal in all five editions of the biennial event, which was first held in 2009. With its victory over Argentina, the USA is now 27-0 in men’s FIBA Americas U16 Championship action.
USA U16 team members of note include: Bradley Beal (2009), Vernon Carey Jr. (2017), Quinn Cook (2009), Andre Drummond (2009), Terrance Ferguson (2013), Aaron Gordon (2011), Zion Harmon (2017), Markus Howard (2015), Tyus Jones (2011), Kevin Knox (2015), James Michael McAdoo (2009), Malik Newman (2013), Jahlil Okafor (2011), Jabari Parker (2011), Diamond Stone (2013), Jason Tatum (2013), Gary Trent Jr. (2015), Jarred Vanderbilt (2015) and Seventh Woods (2013).