USA U16 Men Race Past Mexico For 123-53 Victory
Win Advances USA into Medal Round Semifinals and Clash Against Canada
Posting 10-0 and 17-0 scoring runs in the first quarter, the USA U16 Men (4-0) quickly put away host Mexico (0-4) and cruised to a 123-53 victory in FIBA Americas U16 Championship quarterfinals play Friday night in Xalapa, Mexico.
The USA will look to continue its march to gold facing Canada (3-1) in Saturday’s 9:30 p.m. EDT semifinal. Argentina (4-0) will square off against Dominican Republic (3-1) in the U16’s other medal round semifinal. Winners of the semifinal games will advance to Sunday’s gold medal game (9:30 p.m. EDT), while semifinal losers will square off in the bronze medal game (6:30 pm EDT). All games are being streamed live on the FIBA YouTube channel.
“We live scouted Canada today and we also watched film on them so we’ve been able to gather some things on them and it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t get to play Canada on the way to trying to get a gold medal because that’s who we had to get through the last three times at least to get to the gold medal,” said USA U16 National Team head coach Sharman White (Pace Academy, Ga.). “We look forward to the matchup, and we know it will be a good matchup. It’s kind of like a rivalry game.”
The win not only advanced the U.S. squad to the medal semifinals, but it also insured the United States of a berth in the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup as the top four finishing teams, all four quarterfinal winners, Argentina, Canada, Dominican Republic and the USA, qualify for next summer’s competition.
In Friday’s other quarterfinals games, Argentina pounded Chile (0-4) 90-38, Dominican Republic edged Brazil (1-3) 74-66, and Canada downed Puerto Rico (1-3) 93-65.
“I just got done telling them in the locker room about how I felt like they were physically loose but they were mentally tight during warmups and I knew we were going to get out to a good start and that’s been the case for the previous three games.” said White. “These guys really lock in when it’s time to lock in and that’s one of their biggest attributes in this tournament. They’ve been able to focus on the most important things and go out there and get the job done.”
Getting four points each from Jalen Lewis (Overtime Elite/Oakland, Calif.) and Ronald Holland (Duncanville H.S./Dallas, Texas), the USA sprinted to a 10-0 lead just 3:21 into the game. Mexico got on the scoreboard at the 6:05 mark and cut the U.S. advantage to 12-5, but the Americans responded with a monster run of 17 consecutive points and by the end of the game’s first 10 minutes, the USA had the game in hand and was comfortably ahead 35-7.
The U.S. expanded its lead in the second quarter and after outscoring Mexico 29-17 took a 64-24 advantage to the locker room. Fifteen of Mexico’s 17 second quarter points came off of 3-pointers as Mexico shot 5-of-9 from 3-point in the quarter and was just 1-of-6 from 2-point.
All 12 USA players had points on the board in the game’s first half, and as a team the USA limited Mexico into 30.0% (9-30 FGs) shooting, and forced its opponents into 21 turnovers that resulted in 36 points for the red, white and blue.
Opening the third quarter by outscoring Mexico 11-3, the USA, behind 18 points from Lewis, won the period 37-17, and then outscored Mexico 22-12 in the final stanza to take the 70-point victory.
Finishing with five U.S. players in double-digit scoring, Lewis led the U.S. charge with 24 points on 11-14 shooting from the floor. Holland collected a double-double of 16 points (7-11 FGs) and 10 boards, and added five assists and three steals. Ryan "RJ" Jones Jr. (The Rock School/Gainesville, Fla.) accounted for 16 points (5-7 FGs, 4-4 FTs), Jaylen Curry (Julius L. Chambers H.S./Charlotte, N.C.) netted 13 points and passed off 10 assists for double-double, while Jeremy Fears Jr. (La Lumiere School/Chicago, Ill.), recorded 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“We got to a good early run and that all starts with playing solid defense. We pretty much dominated the first half. Once we got that early run it was just executing and staying solid throughout the game,” said USA high-scorer Lewis. “I got a lot of buckets in transition for sure, and I got a little bit of a hot hand and got in a little run. It was fun, it was fun to be out there.”
The USA scored 58 fastbreak points and saw its bench account for 54 points.
Lewis likewise commented on the USA’s depth and the close bond that has been built.
“It’s so special to me to play with this type of talented guys because I know we’re all going to see each other in the future in close to the highest level of basketball there is. It’s really good playing with these guys, we’re building really good chemistry, you know these are my brothers now and we’re just trying to get gold.”
The U.S., which shot 59.8% (52-87 FGs) from the field, was credited with 39 assists on the 52 made field goals. Owning a 45-32 rebounding advantage, defensively the USA harassed Mexico into 35.0% (21-60 FGs) shooting, while forcing Mexico into 33 miscues which led to 20 steals for the Americans.
“I like our defensive intensity,” commented White. “It has not dropped off, it has continued to get better and better each game. Our guys are locked in. They were locked in to our scouting report, they were able to make the adjustment on defense and it disrupted Mexico early and got them out of their comfort zone.
“It was a tough process to select these 12 guys, but we felt like it was the right 12 and as you can see they cheer for each other, play for each other, do all the right things. So when a guy comes into the game there’s no drop off, they come in ready to contribute and make the right play,” added White.
Assisting White with the 2021 USA U16 National Team are assistant coaches(St. Edward H.S., Ohio) and (Gonzaga College H.S., D.C.).
A biennial event launched in 2009 and open to athletes 16 years old or younger, the FIBA Americas U16 Championship features eight national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. The USA Basketball men have won the gold medal in all six editions of the tournament since its debut in 2009.
The USA is now 35-0 in FIBA Americas U16 competitions and has claimed the championship gold medal in the previous six competitions.