USA Men's U19 Team Earns 111-71 Opening Victory over New Zealand
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Behind a 20-point performance from Reggie Perry (Mississippi State/Thomasville, Ga.) and with the help of a 13-0 run to open the second half, the USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team (1-0) raced past New Zealand (0-1) 111-71 in its opening game of the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in Heraklion, Greece.
"I thought early, and I don’t know if it was a little nerves, but we were trying to do too much," said USA head coach Bruce Weber. "Then we figured out that when they drove they weren’t trying to shoot it, they were trying to pass it. Once we figured out just stay one-on-one defensive, stay with people, we were able to stop them.
"We had a great start to the third quarter and I think we shut them out for the first five or six minutes, they didn’t score a point. We made that nice run that put no doubt in their head. We talked about our Serbia (exhibition game on June 27) game where we let our 17 point lead in the second half slip. This time we extended it, kept it going. Reggie (Perry) as a starter really got us going and played with great energy. Then Scottie Barnes and Kira Lewis Jr. really gave us nice minutes and hopefully we got a little more confidence for a couple of our guys. We even made a couple 3s in the second half which was real positive."
In addition to Perry, who shot 9-of-12 from the field and secured six rebounds and three steals, the USA’s scoring effort was bolstered by 16 points from Scottie Barnes (University School/West Palm Beach, Fla.); 12 points apiece from Jalen Green (Prolific Prep/Fresno, Calif.) and Trevion Williams (Purdue/Chicago, Ill.); and Cade Cunningham (Montverde Academy, Fla./Arlington, Texas) rounded out the USA’s double-digit scorers with 11 points.
Trevion Williams grabbed a game-high seven boards as the Americans outrebounded the Kiwis 47-37. Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State/Oshkosh, Wis.), who had eight points, and Isaac Likekele (Oklahoma State/Arlington, Texas), who scored nine, each dished out eight of the USA’s 31 assists.
Next up for the USA is a June 30 (10:45 a.m. EDT) clash against Lithuania (1-0), which easily handled Senegal (0-) 76-52 in today’s other Group A game.
After three lead changes in the first quarter, the USA took the lead for good after Barnes scored a traditional 3-point play to put the U.S. up 14-13 with 4:02 to play in the first quarter.
The game remained close through the first 10 minutes and the USA held a 24-19 edge at the end of the first period. Outscoring New Zealand by four points in the second to take a 44-35 advantage into the locker room at the half.
Receiving points from four different players, the USA opened the second half on a 13-0 run and held a comfortable 57-35 lead at 6:37. The American men continued to pull away for an insurmountable 76-51 lead after the end of the third quarter and cruised in for the 111-71 victory.
In all, the Americans shot a blistering 54.3% (44-81 FGs) from the field while holding New Zealand to 36.2% (25-69 FGs) shooting.
Forcing New Zealand into 28 turnovers, off of which they scored 33 points, the American men outscored New Zealand 28-10 points in transition, 20-4 on second-chance points, 76-30 points in the paint and the USA’s bench outscored the New Zealanders subs 62-30.
The USA cashed in on New Zealand's 28 turnovers, scoring 33 points. The U.S. also held the upper hand for second chance points by a 2-8margin, and fast break points by a 28-10 margin.
Likekele echoed the defensive sentiment.
"We have different high-caliber players who are coming off our bench. Everybody either starts at their (high) school or starts at their college, so one through 12, everybody is a star. Really we can you put anybody in the game and Coach Weber can feel real comfortable with whoever is in there. This just feels like a big family supporting each other and everybody is going out there and having fun."
In other games today Mali (1-0) took down Latvia (0-1) 93-79, Serbia (1-0) throttled China (0-1) 106-57, defending champion Canada (1-0) nipped Australia (0-1) 81-76, France (1-0) downed Puerto Rico (0-1) 91-68 and Argentina (1-0) edged Russia (0-1) 86-84 in overtime. The day’s final game features host Greece (1-0) defeated the Philippines (0-1) 85-69.