USA Men Open FIBA U19 World Cup Action with Dominating 83-54 Win Over Turkey
Posting an 11-0 run to start the game, the USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team (1-0) never looked back en route to recording a decisive 83-54 victory over Turkey (0-1) Saturday in both teams’ opening game of the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup in Riga, Latvia.
After opening the game with a 11-0 run, the Americans closed the first 10 minutes with a 15-2 surge that covered the final 4:13 of the quarter. Jaden Ivey (Purdue/Mishawaka, Ind.) scored 10 of the USA’s last 15 points in the first period which led the USA securing a 20-point lead (29-9) going into the second quarter.
“I felt good, it was just one of those games where you feel good before the game and as the game started, we brought our energy out when I came off the bench,” said Ivey. “But, I feel like it was just great to play today and everybody stepped up in the game. Everybody played a huge role in this one today.”
Ivey was the game’s leading scorer with 21 points off the bench on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, and added three rebounds, two assists, a game-high four steals and one block. Each of his four steals led to fast break dunks at the other end.
“I just positioned myself defensively, feel like I worked hard on defense and it led to those easy dunks and big excitement for my teammates as well,” stated Ivey. “I was just thankful that I was able to get those easy fast breaks and get that energy boost for my teammates.”
The USA also were led by Chet Holmgren (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.) who finished with a near double-double of 13 points, nine rebounds, a team-high-tying five assists, one steal and team-high two blocked shots. Kennedy Chandler (Sunrise Christian Academy/Memphis, Tenn.) also has solid contributions with five points, five rebounds and a team-high-tying five assists off the bench. Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Hamilton H.S./Sussex, Wis.) also chipped in seven points and five rebounds.
“This win feels good,” said Holmgren. “I feel I can get my shot off pretty much whenever I want. So, I want to make sure I look for my teammates and elevate them. In the process that elevates my game as well and the whole team's performance. So, I just want to look to get my teammates involved and help make the game easier for them just like they do for me.”
The second half of this game saw more even play with Turkey battling consistently with the USA. Turkey won the third quarter (18-17) with the USA closing out the game, winning the fourth quarter (20-16).
“Jaden (Ivey) was really good, and I thought his defense was really key for us,” said USA head coach Jamie Dixon (TCU). “He got the steals and breakouts, and they were solid, it wasn't a gamble, he was just getting into the ball and pressuring guys on catches. Our defense really got it going, that was key and then we really passed the ball well. So, I told our guys 23 assists compared to 21 total in our first two scrimmages, so we got better. We are a team in the making, but defense got us going. I thought our ball pressure was really good, Mike Miles set the tone and Adam Miller out front, and I thought that was huge for us.”
The USA showed their depth in this one with all 12 players seeing game action in this FIBA U19 World Cup opener, with a minimum of 11 minutes played. The USA outscored Turkey’s bench by a 55-37 margin.
“Depth is our strength, you see these teams and you watch them, and their five guys are as good as ours, but we have 12 of them and we've got to use that to our advantage,” said Dixon. “So, that's got to be our mentality and we've got to use that and when guys aren't in foul trouble, or not playing great, we've got options and opportunities and we can keep them fresh.”
The USA will continue in the preliminary round tomorrow July 4, at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) versus Mali. The USA will wrap up preliminary round play on Tuesday, July 6, at 1:30 p.m. EDT versus Australia.
In the other opening day games, France (1-0) pounds South Korea (0-1) 117-48, Senegal (1-0) edged Japan (0-1) 76-71, Argentina (1-0) nipped Spain (0-1) 69-68, Canada (1-0) defeated Lithuania (0-1) 80-71 and Puerto Rico upended host Latvia 79-75. Final game os the day will feature Australia-Mali and Iran-Serbia.
Assisting Dixon on the USA sidelines are assistant coaches Jerod Haase (Stanford) and James Jones (Yale).
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 99-14 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.