Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
USA routs Canada, will play France for gold medal in U17 World Championship
Trailing 28-21 after the first quarter, the USA U17 Men (6-0) turned up the pressure in the second quarter and then cruised to a 120-71 victory against Canada (5-1) in the semifinals of the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup on July 7 at Union Athletic Club in Santa Fe, Argentina.
The 49-point win was the largest margin of victory ever in a men’s FIBA U17 World Cup semifinal, and the 120 points were the most points ever scored in a men’s FIBA U17 World Cup semifinal.
“We got down in the first quarter, but we knew they were going to come out and really give us their best shot right off the bat,” said USA U17 head coach Don Showalter (USA Basketball youth division coach director). “They are well prepared and well coached.
“We got down eight at one point, 28-20, but in the second quarter our defense turned up a notch. We used different guys, and I thought our zone press was really good in the second quarter. And the kids just wanted it a little more, I think. They wanted to prove that they get the job done.”
The USA will play France (6-0), which earlier this evening beat Puerto Rico (4-2) 78-73, in the gold medal game at 7:30 p.m. EDT on July 8 (available in the United States on ESPN+).
Canada will play Puerto Rico at 5 p.m. EDT in the bronze medal game.
In all six of the USA’s games thus far in the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup, all available U.S. players have scored. Against Canada, Jalen Green (San Joaquin Memorial H.S./Fresno, Calif.) led the USA with 25 points; Scottie Barnes (University School/West Palm Beach, Fla.) added 18 points and four assists; De’Vion Harmon (Guyer H.S./Corinth, Texas) tallied 13 points and dished out five assists; Isaiah Stewart (La Lumiere School, Ind./Rochester, N.Y.) and Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.) scored 12 points apiece; Romeo Weems (New Haven H.S./New Haven, Mich.) finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and six steals; and Vernon Carey Jr. (University School/Southwest Ranches, Fla.) rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points.
“That was exciting,” Suggs said. “We went through a little bit of adversity. First quarter, it was really close. I think we were down by seven. But, we came out in the second quarter and brought energy and tied the game up, and then we never looked back. Third and fourth quarter, I think we played with more energy than we did the whole tournament, and it really showed.”
The USA started the game shooting just 34.8 percent from the field (8-23 FGs), while Canada opened shooting 62.5 percent from the field (10-16 FGs). That changed in the second quarter, when the USA made 9-of-16 shots (.563) and outscored Canada 33-14, including 24 points from non-starters.
The USA kicked off the second period with an 11-2 run to regain a 32-30 lead. The teams went back and forth for several minutes, and the score was 37-35 in Canada’s favor with 4:22 before halftime. Two made free throw from Suggs, however, were the start of a 19-5 U.S. run that featured six different scorers, and the USA led 54-42 at the midway point.
The USA maintained its lead through the third quarter until breaking the game open with 3:29 on the clock. This time, a jumper from Green ignited a 17-2 stretch for the USA, which led 83-55 heading into the fourth.
With its offense in high gear, the USA outscored Canada 37-16 in the final period to earn the 120-71 win.
Overall, the USA forced 32 Canadian turnovers, which resulted in 47 points, and finished the game shooting 51.1 percent (46-90 FGs) while limited Canada to just 39.1 percent (27-69 FGs).
“We played with high energy,” Weems said. “We knew they were going to throw punches, and they threw them in the first quarter, so we just had to keep playing.”
R.J. Hampton (Little Elm H.S./Little Elm, Texas) did not play due to a right foot injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Winners of the four previous FIBA U17 World Cup titles, the USA men are now a sterling 36-0 in U17 World Cup action.
In a pre-tournament exhibition game on June 26, the USA defeated France 82-46.
“I feel confident that we are going to give it a great shot,” Showalter said of the USA’s gold medal matchup against France. “That’s all you can ask for. But, the way this team has really come together has really been unbelievable. From my standpoint as a coach, this is the fifth U17 team I’ve coached, and they have probably bought in and come together closer than any other team I’ve ever had.”
The USA’s assistant coaches are Scott Fitch (Fairport H.S., N.Y.) and Stan Waterman (Sanford School, Del.).
The classification semifinals for fifth through eighth places saw Turkey (4-2) top Montenegro (3-3) 101-65; and Australia (4-2) beat Croatia (3-3) 71-54.
In the games for ninth through 12th places, Dominican Republic (2-4) need three overtimes to defeat Mali (2-4) 110-108; and Serbia (4-2) won against host Argentina (2-4) 74-54.
In the 13th-16th semifinals, New Zealand (1-5) got its first victory against winless China (0-6) 62-57; and Philippines (1-5) got its first win against Egypt (1-5) 70-69.
On July 8, playing for fifth place will be Turkey – Australia; the seventh place game will feature Montenegro – Croatia; the ninth place game is Dominican Republic – Serbia; playing for 11th place will be Argentina – Mali; competing for 13th place will be New Zealand – Philippines; and the 15th place game will feature China – Egypt.
(Via USA Basketball)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.