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 U19 Men Rout Lithuania 102-67 to Reach Gold Medal Game
Via USA Basketball
A 15-0 run early in the third quarter was a turning point for the USA Men’s U19 Team (6-0) in a 102-67 semifinal win over Lithuania (3-3) at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup on Saturday in Heraklion, Greece.
“We talked about having great energy from the start,” said USA head coach Bruce Weber
(Kansas State). “I thought our defense was good and kind of set the
tone for the whole first half. We held them to 32 (points) in the half
and they’re a very good offensive team.
knew 3s would maybe the difference in the game,” he continued. “We
didn’t hit many (3s) early, they just kept sagging back. We had talked
about it and we knew they were going to do it, I just think guys were
trying to prove things instead of moving the ball, working in, shooting
in rhythm 3s.
“Kira Lewis Jr. is a veteran guard that’s been through it and he can shoot it, and he stepped up big for us tonight. Also, our big guys, Jeremiah (Robinson-Earl) and Reggie (Perry), both of them were in double figures for rebounds, and Jeremiah had a double-double.”
USA will meet Mali (5-1), 76-73 winners over France, in the gold medal
game at 1:30 p.m. EDT on July 7. The gold medal game will be available
live online at ESPN+. France and Lithuania will play in the bronze medal
game at 11 a.m. EDT.
is probably the surprise of the tournament, said Weber of the USA’s
gold medal opponent. “They’ve got some size, some length, they play
their butts off. They got the big guy inside and it seems when they can
take care of the ball they’re pretty good. We’re going to have to do a
good job. It’s a match of athleticism against athleticism, and then
we’ve got to stay in front of them on the dribble because they’re going
to take you and get to the hoop. So, we’ve got to do a good job of
staying in front of them.”
Jalen Green (Prolific Prep/Fresno, Calif.) finished with 18 points and six rebounds; Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.) added 15 points and six steals; Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (IMG Academy, Fla./Overland Park, Kan.) contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds; Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama/Merdianville, Ala.) was 4-of-4 from the field on his way to 11 points; and Isaac Likekele (Oklahoma State/Arlington, Texas) added 11 points. Additionally, Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State/Oshkosh, Wis.) tallied seven of the USA’s 23 assists, and Reggie Perry (Mississippi State/Thomasville, Ga.) grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds and finished with eight points.
knew this was a very good team,” said Suggs. “We watched them play
against Serbia last night and we knew when we played them the first time
they gave us some trouble, so the message today was come out and play.
We knew they were going to come back better, they did more scouting, had
more walkthroughs, they had more knowledge about how we play, so, today
it was just going to be about who had more heart. I think we showed
that today. We came out competitive as a group playing together and we
go the win.”
Never trailing in the game, the USA built a 25-14 lead in the first
quarter, taking advantage of its 17-8 tally on the boards. Robinson-Earl
had seven points in the first quarter.
In the second period, Lithuania cut the U.S. lead to five points,
26-21 at 7:40, but the USA pushed back with eight unanswered points from
four different players and led by as many as 16 points, 39-23 with 3:33
on the clock. From there Lithuania scored nine and the USA scored five
points, and the Americans led 44-32 at halftime.
Ten of the USA’s 12 team members had scored by halftime, and the USA
had a 31-15 rebounding lead and had forced 12 Lithuanian turnovers.
Both teams scored to start the third quarter, but then the USA,
behind 10 points from Suggs, took over with a 15-0 stretch and led 61-35
after a Green 3-pointer at 6:00. Lithuania went on an 8-0 run of its
own to reduce the gap to 65-46, but the USA closed the third period with
a 10-2 run to take a 75-48 lead into the fourth quarter. Overall, the
USA outscored Lithuania 31-16 in the third quarter.
In the final period, the USA outscored Lithuania 27-19 to earn the 102-67 win.
a nice win. Last night they (Lithuania) had a huge win over Serbia. But
when you look at the minutes, they had guys that played 38, 39, 36.
They had to play a lot of minutes and we thought we could wear them out
and in the second half that was probably the difference in the game,”
The USA finished the game shooting 45.1% from the field (41-91), and
made a tournament-high 12 3-pointers. Holding Lithuania to 36.4% (24-66)
shooting from the field and 10-of-32 from 3-point,, and won the
rebounding battle 57-38. It also was impressive in turning Lithuania’s
22 turnovers into 28 points, as well as recording 50 points in the paint
and 54 points off of the bench.
The USA twice beat Lithuania in 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup action, including a 102-84 preliminary round win on June 30.
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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.