June 30, 2011
The suspense for the USA in its FIBA U19 World Championship preliminary round opening game in Liepaja, Latvia, was over quickly as the Americans (1-0) started the contest scoring the game's first 22 points and sailed on to record a 115-60 victory over Egypt (0-1). The USA continued preliminary play Friday facing Serbia (1-0), 78-73 winners over China (0-1).
All 12 USA players scored in the game. Doug McDermott (Creighton/Ames, Iowa) headed the red, white and blue's scoring with 19 points, while Joe Jackson (Memphis/Memphis, Tenn.) and Jeremy Lamb (Connecticut/ Norcross, Ga.) aided the victorious cause with 15 points each. Meyers Leonard (Illinois/Robinson, Ill.) recorded a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Meyers and Patric Young (Florida/Jacksonville, Fla.), each swatted four shots to tie the USA single game record (done on four previous occasions, last recorded in 2009).
"The young men focused on the things we wanted to focus on, defensively especially. I like the fact that we shared the basketball and we had a lot of guys get some good looks at the basket and make some shots," said USA U119 mentor Paul Hewitt (George Mason).
"I was happy with our ball movement and I thought we defended well, but in particular ball movement and we made some threes. I think any team that wins this world championship is going to have shoot the ball well from the outside and that's usually keyed by good passing."
Young tapped the opening tip down court to Lamb who sailed in for the layup and the game's first points. With six different U.S. players contributing points, the Americans pounded their way to a 22-0 lead with 3:20 left in the opening quarter. Egypt posted its first points of the game with 2:55 left in the period when Seif Samir made one of two free throws.
Carrying a 25-5 lead into the second quarter, the U.S. pushed its advantage to 32-9. Egypt got its offense on track and after outscoring the USA 13-2, trailed 34-22 with 6:54 remaining before halftime. Leonard scored to get the U.S. back on track and 12 of the team's final 14 points in the quarter came courtesy of four 3-pointers, two from Jackson and two from Lamb.
The USA's dominating showing continued in the second half and the U.S. outgunned Egypt 32-15 in the third and 33-16 in the final quarter.,p>
"At the beginning of the game we were really focused on rebounding, defense, pushing the ball up the floor, the things that Coach Hewitt told us before the game started to really focus and key in on. We really executed those things at the beginning of the game because we wanted to make a statement that we are a team, and we came here to win a gold medal," said Young, who finished tied with Leonard for a team high with four blocked shots.
The U.S. owned a 57-40 advantage on the glass and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds. Meyers, 11 rebounds, Tony Mitchell (North Texas/Dallas, Texas), 10 boards, and Young, 8 rebounds, handled the majority of the USA's rebounding.
Keith Appling (Michigan State/Detroit, Mich.), Anthony Brown (Stanford/Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Khyle Marshall (Butler/Davie, Fla.) scored 10 points each, while Jahii Carson (Mesa High School/*Arizona State/Phoenix, Ariz.) was the team's assist leader with seven.
As a team, the USA shot 56.6 percent from the field and a sizzling 54.2 percent (13-24 FGs) from beyond the 3-point arc. Two days earlier, in the loss to Lithuania's U19 team, the U.S. was 0-17 from three.
"I knew eventually the shots would start falling," said Jackson who made three of his four 3-point attempts. "We're playing with a different ball, you know it probably takes a week just to get use to shooting it, getting your fingers spaced on the different ball. We shoot a lot (in practice) and once you make shots your confidence goes up, so I'm looking forward for our team to be making shots from here on out."
"When those guys (Lamb and Jackson) start hitting shots it just gives confidence to the rest of the team and then Hardaway comes in and hits a couple, Brown and McDermott made some too. But when Jeremy and Joe are knocking down shots it helps the whole team. There were a couple of things we did offensively that created some of those looks and I was very pleased to see them executing some of that stuff. When those two guys make plays and make shots it really gives our team a lift," state Hewitt.
The Americans were also credited in the game for 32 assists while only committing 12 turnovers. Sixteen nations are battling for the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship for Men gold medal. The U.S. continues its preliminary round play facing Serbia on July 1 (9 a.m. EDT), then concludes preliminary play versus China on July 2 (11:15 a.m. EDT).
"I think we're going to have to defend their ball screens really well, and we're going to have to stop dribble penetration that leads to kick out threes for them," remaked Hewitt about the keys to Friday's showdown.
The top three teams from each preliminary group will qualify for the preliminary second round, while the fourth place teams will qualify for the classification round to determine 13th to 16th places. The quarterfinals will be held on July 8, semifinals are slated for July 9 and the gold and bronze medal games, as well as the 5th/6th place and 7th/8th place games will be contested on July 10.