USA U19 Men Surge Past Russia 95-80 and Into Semifinals
After an impressive defensive first quarter that resulted in a 19-10 lead, the USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team (5-0) got its offense rolling and rode a 14-0 second period run to a convincing 95-80 win over Russia (3-2) in the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup on Friday in Heraklion, Greece.
The USA will play Lithuania (3-2) in the semifinals on July 6 at 1:30 p.m. (EDT). Lithuania won its quarterfinal game against previously undefeated Serbia (4-1) 92-85 in overtime. The USA previously beat Lithuania 102-84 in preliminary round play on June 30. The USA’s semifinal game will be available live online at ESPN+. Mali (4-1) advanced to the U19 semifinals for the first time in history after handling Puerto Rico (1-4) 84-74, and will face France (4-1), who knocked off defending champion Canada 85-80, in the other semifinals game.
Reggie Perry (Thomasville H.S./Thomasville, Ga.) made 10-of-15 shots to lead the USA in the win with 28 points, while adding eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.
"Reggie (Perry) was a man. We’ve been telling him that since we were in Colorado Springs. He should be the best player out here, he's been through it, he went in the combine, he’s played against high level guys," said USA and Kansas State head mentor Bruce Weber. "He not only was good on the offense end and rebounding, but he was really good on defense. We have a defections, play hard chart and he had double digits on that also. So, he was very, very active and did a nice job."
Scottie Barnes (University School/West Palm Beach, Fla.) contributed 13 points; Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (IMG Academy, Fla./Overland Park, Kan.) scored 13 points, grabbed eight rebounds and collected three steals; and Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State/Oshkosh, Wis.) had 10 points, seven assists and five steals. Cade Cunningham (Montverde Academy, Fla./Arlington, Texas) dished out nine of the USA’s 29 assists, which tied the U.S. men’s U19 single-game assists high.
"We talked about taking the game to them, and I thought our guys did that," continued Weber. "We knew they weren’t going to quit. You’re playing for a world championship, and they came back and started making some shots and got our attention. To our guys’ credit, now we’ve been in two games where he had to make some plays. I thought Cade Cunningham made some great passes in that little stretch where we were in half court offense, and then Tyrese (Haliburton) had a nice steal, we got a layup, we got another steal and it kind of changed the momentum of the game and we just had to finish it," added Weber.
"When they play their butts off, they guard the heck out of people, and we share the ball, we’re pretty good,"
The USA outrebounded Russia 21-8 in the first quarter and led by as many as 10 points before taking a 19-10 advantage at the end of the period. It also forced nine Russia turnovers in the first 10 minutes.
After a score by each team to start the second quarter, Russia made it 21-14 with 8:16 on the clock. From there, Russia did not score for nearly three minutes while the USA put up 14 points to led 35-14 until 5:24.
Expanding its lead to 47-19 with 2:33 remaining before intermission, at the midway point, the USA was ahead 51-27 and had 27 points off of fast break opportunities.
Russia opened the third quarter firing and fought back to within nine points near the end of the third quarter, 66-57, after they sank a 3-pointer at 55.0 seconds. Perry scored the USA's last two points of the period to push the lead to 68-57 headed into the final 10 minutes.
Quickly in the fourth quarter, the USA again began to cushion its advantage, and after outscoring Russia 11-3, opened a 79-60 lead with 7:44 to go in the game. The U.S. advantage got up to 25 points in the fourth quarter, 90-65 with 4:47 to play. The USA scored just five more points, while Russia added 15 to bring the game to its 95-80 final.
"We really just try throwing the first punch every night and just defend as well as we can and get stops," said Perry. "If we get stops, it’s hard to beat us."
On the night, Russia was lost the battle on the boards by 37-32 margin, and turned the ball over19 times, while the U.S. committed just 11 turnovers.
In the day's classification quarterfinal matches, Argentina (4-1) beat New Zealand (3-2) 84-79, Latvia (1-4) edged China (1-4) 87-84, Australia (2-3) bettered Philippines 82-60 (0-5), and Greece (2-3) downed Senegal (0-5) 102-97.
The USA’s assistant coaches areMike Hopkins (Washington) and LeVelle Moton (North Carolina Central).