USA claims prelim victory over Puerto Rico in FIBA U18 Americas Championship
2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championship | June 6-12 | Tijuana, Mexico
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- 2022 USA Basketball MU18 National Team Fact Sheet
- 2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championship Schedule
- For the full game box score, click here
The 2022 USA Basketball U18 Men’s National Team finished its prelim play in the FIBA U18 Americas Championship with a 100-55 win over Puerto Rico on Wednesday afternoon at Auditorio Zonkeys in Tijuana, Mexico.
Cam Whitmore and Eric Dailey Jr. paced the USA with 24 and 16 points each. Aiding Whitmore and Dailey Jr. was Kel’el Ware, who scored 15 points. In addition, Anthony Black and Seth Trimble scored 10 points each. In total the U.S. had five double-digit scorers, as again, it let great defense lead to offensive production.
“The key to this team is to apply defensive pressure and create turnovers,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “We were able to do that as the game wore on and break it open.”
Puerto Rico came out firing from 3-point range, and its zone defense forced the USA into turnovers. With five minutes left to play in the first quarter, Puerto Rico led, 11-10. The USA finished the frame strong, on a 12-4 run, ending the quarter with a 22-15 lead.
“We knew going into the game that they were the most efficient [offensive] team we played out of three [games],” Boyle said. “They have great pace and really good shooters, so it took us a while to adjust to that. But once we did, I felt like our pressure was where it needed to be.”
In the second quarter, Whitmore scored 13 of his game-high 24, mixing both his inside game with a soft shooting touch.
Whitmore finished the game shooting 11-for-13 from the field and 2- for-2 from 3-point range.
“Cam was very efficient,” Boyle said. “It was the best game he’s played out of the three, for sure.”
Separation for the USA came on the defensive end, utilizing both length and athleticism. The U.S. held Puerto Rico to 30% shooting from the field and 20% from three.
The USA’s defense also forced Puerto Rico into 22 turnovers, while collecting nine steals and three blocks. The 22 turnovers led to 23 points, which helped build the lead as the game wore on.
With a day's rest between the prelim play and the quarterfinals, the USA will need its defense to be its best ahead of Friday’s tournament-play matchup.
“Our ability to share the ball and play unselfishly has been the key so far,” Boyle said. “In the quarterfinal, I am looking for the same things I’ve been looking for the last three games, great intensity on the defensive end, the ability to turn the other team over, create offense with our defense and share the ball.”