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Reggie Perry

USA Men's U19 Team Earns 111-71 Opening Victory over New Zealand

  • Date:
    Jun 29, 2019

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.

Perry said his focus for the start of the game was simple: "Just to jump on them out of the gate. Play as hard as I can from out of the gate. Just get our team out to a good start in the tournament and get everybody to play hard and help them feed off my energy."

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.

"We were definitely sluggish to begin with," said Likekele. "I couldn’t really establish a rhythm myself, and as a team I felt like everybody was sluggish. We had a lot of missed layups, missed opportunities, We’ve got to be better. In the second half I feel like we picked it up most definitely as a team. I still didn’t play at the level I need to play at to be successful the whole way through, but that will eventually change. I feel like the more and more we play and come together as a team we’ll get even better."

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.

"Obviously we’ve got a quick turnaround and a very, very tough opponent (Lithuania) tomorrow," said Weber. "They're kind of that old school European team. A lot of handoffs, in the ball screens they’re moving pieces, they get moving tags, but hopefully our physicality, our length and then we’ve got to keep a body on a body and keep them in front of us. They’re a little bit like New Zealand where they penetrate to kick it to the open 3s and they got it going today in the second half versus Senegal. They went to the hoop first half and I think they said Senegal had like nine or 11 blocked shots at halftime. Second half, they drove it and kicked it for open 3s. and then of defense they scheme. So, we’re going to have to read their schemes and make the right play."

The USA’s preliminary round games are being streamed live online at Facebook.com/USABasketball and YouTube.com/FIBA.

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.

"Our defense is really important to our game," stated Perry. "We feel like our defense helps our offense so were just trying to force as many turnovers as we can and just get out on the break under control and make smart plays."

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.

 

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