USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team Claims Win Over Spain in Second Scrimmage in Latvia
Facing Spain in its second scrimmage in as many days, the USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team fought hard from the tip in another four-quarter scrimmage, showcasing strong defensive efforts and winning both the third and fourth quarters in route to claim a 61-60 victory.
Once again, all 12 players for the USA saw game action in this second warm-up, with a minimum of seven minutes played. The USA saw strong play from its big men with Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Louisiana Tech/Port Arthur, Texas) leading the offense with a near double-double of 14 points (8-of-10 from the free throw line) to go with nine rebounds in 21 minutes. Chet Holmgren (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.) contributed a double-double with 10 points, a game-high 10 rebounds and two blocks in 26 minutes of play. Mike Miles (TCU/Lancaster, Texas) also chipped in seven points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal in 24 minutes.
“I expect us to get better every single day, keep building on the last day,” said Holmgren. “These teams are all pretty good, and we played a good Australia squad yesterday in our first scrimmage. We built from that and played better today against Spain, and I see that continuing to go forward.”
The Americans are hopeful that the play of their big men and scoring ability in the post will be an advantage as they prepare for 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup play starting Saturday, July 3, versus Turkey.
“Junior (Kenneth Lofton Jr.) is very good, I try to feed my big men and let my big men eat, play to the mismatches and when you have a mismatch, I try to get him involved and let him work,” stated Holmgren. “If there is no double, he has an easy basket but once that double comes, it opens up for all of our other players, so just kind of try to play to our strengths and Kenny is definitely one of them.”
The USA played close with Spain from the start, down by just one point (16-15) to end the first quarter. The opening frame would be the only quarter lost, tying Spain in the second (13-13) and winning the third (15-14) and fourth quarters (18-17). The second half saw a more balanced offense and a step in the right direction.
“In the clock and half and quarter situations, I thought we did a little better, especially in the second half,” said USA head coach Jamie Dixon (TCU).
“We anticipated that our big men would be an area of scoring for us, and our big men are unique in that regard. But we’ve got to do a better job in transition. I think that was something that really stuck out to us and we got a little better as the game went on but that really stuck out to us and we really haven’t converted it with opportunities in transition,” stated Dixon.
The U.S. forced Spain into 14 turnovers in the game, converting into 14 points for the USA. The U.S. also outscored Spain in the paint (32-16), on the fast break (17-9) and in second-chance points (9-8). They also held Spain to just 11-of-40 (.253%) shooting from the field in the exhibition.
The next contest for the USA will be its opening round matchup versus Turkey in the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup slated to take place on July 3, at 10:30 a.m. EDT in Riga, Latvia.
“We will take a day to prepare for Turkey,” said Dixon. “We’ve got work to do to figure out this team and individual strengths and play to those.”
FIBA World Cup
Featuring U19 teams from 16 nations, the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup is scheduled to be held July 3-11 in Riga and Daugavpils, Latvia. In addition to the USA and host Latvia, teams that will take part in this summer’s FIBA U19 World Cup include Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Japan, Lithuania, Mali, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Serbia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey.
The USA was drawn into Group D, alongside Australia, Mali and Turkey for the July 3-6 FIBA U19 World Cup preliminary round. The USA will open play against Turkey on July 3, followed by Mali on July 4 and close preliminary play against Australia on July 6.
Reigning FIBA U19 World Cup gold medalist, USA men’s teams have won seven gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze medal while compiling an 98-14 overall record in U19 World Cup play since the event was launched in 1979. Even more impressive, the USA has won four of the past six U19 golds since 2009.