USA U16 Men Secure No. 1 Seed With 122-71 Win Over Dominican Republic
Setting three USA U16 single-game records and tying another, the USA Men’s U16 National Team (3-0) took down previously unbeaten Dominican Republic (2-1) 122-71 to close out preliminary play at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship on June 5 at the Guilherme Paraense Arena in Belém, Brazil.
The win secured the USA’s status as Group A’s No. 1 seed into the June 7 quarterfinals, where it will play the No. 4 seed out of Group B, which will be determined after today’s later games.
Max Christie (Rolling Meadows H.S./Arlington Heights, Ill.) scored a game-high 24 points on a USA record 8-of-10 made 3-pointers; Richard ‘Pop Pop’ Isaacs Jr. (Coronado H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) dished out a U.S. U16 single-game record 11 assists to go with 13 points and seven rebounds; and as a team, the USA shot a blistering 56.4 percent (22-39 3pt FGs) from 3-point to smash the previous USA U16 record of 47.6% (10-21 3pt FGs).
Also scoring in double digits were Amari Bailey (Sierra Canyon H.S./Chatsworth, Calif.), who had 18 points; Jalen Duren (Roman Catholic H.S., Pa.)/New Castle, Del.) scored 16 and brought down seven rebounds; Chris Livingston (Buchtel H.S./Akron, Ohio) notched the game’s other double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds; Tamin Lipsey (Ames H.S./Ames, Iowa) added 12 points and passed out seven assists; and Gregg Glenn III (Calvary Christian Academy/Pompano Beach, Fla.) chipped in 11 points.
“It was a very complete effort by our guys in terms of being able to defend, especially in the second half, and sharing the ball the entire game,” said USA U16 head coach Mike Jones (DeMatha Catholic H.S., Md.). “We scored a lot of points, because we were very unselfish. I could not be more proud of their effort today.
“If you were coaching against us, I would imagine it would be pretty tough to prepare, because we’ve had so many guys show what they can do offensively. And then so many guys step up for us defensively as well. That’s an advantage that we’ve always had, our depth, and not missing a beat when we go to our bench. It’s something we want to key on as we keep moving forward.”
Christie surpassed the previous record of seven made 3s set by Gary Trent Jr. (2015) and Bradley Beal (2009), and he tied Adonis Thomas (2009) who also hit 80%, but on 4-of-5 made 3s. The previous single-game assist record was nine, accomplished by both Conner Frankamp and Aaron Gordon in 2011, while the single-game team percentage for 3-pointers has stood since 2009.
“I don’t think I ever have made that many,” said Christie, who scored 15 points on five 3s in the second quarter alone. “It felt good, because I’ve been struggling the last two games to make my shots. To be able to make it in this game felt good.”
The USA was in control throughout most of the win but pulled away in the second half.
After outscoring Dominican Republic 35-22 in the first quarter, the USA extended its lead to 38-24 on a Christie 3 early in the second quarter.
However, Dominican Republic stymied the USA on both ends of the court over a six-minute span. During that time, the islanders went on two 8-0 spurts during a 20-8 run and with 2:18 to go before halftime the USA’s lead had dwindled to 46-44.
“We got out to a slow start,” said Livingston. “We definitely need to start the game off better. That’s something we need to work on for our next games.”
With the help a pair of 3s from Christie over the final two minutes of the first half, and one from Isaacs at the buzzer, the North Americans scored 13-straight points to reestablish a double-digit lead and headed into the locker room up 59-44.
The North Americans strung together a 21-4 run to close the third quarter ahead 87-55 and outscored Dominican Republic 35-16 in the fourth period to secure the 51-point, 122-71 win.
“In the second half we did a great job of executing our game plan,” said Isaacs. “We held them to a limited amount of points, and we scored.”
In addition to Isaacs and Lipsey’s combined 18 assists, the USA’s tally of 34 dimes was further bolstered by six from Dillon Hunter (Westlake H.S./Atlanta, Ga.).
“That just comes from playing together as a team,” commented Livingston regarding the assists. “Pop wouldn’t be able to get that assists record without us hitting shots, and us hitting shots came when we were sharing the ball, moving the ball, playing as a team.”
“He’s right,” said Isaacs. “Guys gotta make shots for me to get assists. I had 11 today, and that came from guys making shots. Assists wouldn’t happen without guys making shots.”
The USA outrebounded Dominican Republic 58-34, secured 23 points off of 18 turnovers and outscored the islanders 50-34 points in the paint, 23-6 on second chances, 31-12 in transition and an immense 70-22 points off the bench.
Additionally, after turning the ball over nine times in the first half, the USA had just four miscues in the second half.
“Back in training camp we kind of struggled being able to take care of the ball,” said Christie. “So, being able to take care of the ball right now where it really matters is great. It helps us win games; it allows us to score a lot of points. With the amount of points we score and how long the games are, to only have 13 turnovers in four, 10-minute quarters is great.”
The quarterfinal winners will meet in the semifinals on June 8, and the bronze and gold medal games will be played on June 9.
“We need to just lock in as a team,” said Isaacs on his team’s focus for the medal round. “We should be able to beat everybody as long as we’re locked in. We have a tendency to come out at the start of the game a little lackadaisical. So, having strong starts at the beginning of games is the key, because you never want to get too far behind.”
Dominican Republic’s Jean Montero, who scored his sides first 14 points in the second quarter, finished the game with 21 points.
Argentina (1-2) defeated Mexico (0-3) 84-75 in the day’s second game. The final two games of the day feature Canada (2-0) against Puerto Rico (1-1) and Brazil (1-1) taking on Uruguay (0-2).
AJ Griffin (Archbishop Stepinac H.S./Ossining, N.Y.) missed the game with 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.
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 28-0 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).