USA Basketball Men’s U17 Team Cashes In Czechs For 95-57 Victory
June 30, 2012 • Kaunas, Lithuania
Behind double-doubles of 16 points and 12 rebounds from Dakari Johnson (Montverde Academy, Fla. / Brooklyn, N.Y.) and 10 points and 14 rebounds from Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.), the 2012 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship Team (2-0) ran out to a 41-22 halftime lead and flew past Czech Republic (1-1) 95-57 in the second day of the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship Saturday afternoon in Kaunas, Lithuania.
The U.S. will next face Egypt (0-2) on July 1 (6:30 a.m. EDT) and France (1-1) on July 3 (1:25 p.m. EDT) before closing preliminary play against China (1-1) on July 4 (1:25 EDT). The top four finishing teams from each group will advance to the medal round with the quarterfinals staged on July 6, the semifinals on July 7 and the finals on July 8.
“I just tried to come in the game and crash the offensive boards and really played hard,” said Dakari Johnson, who had four points and four rebounds in the USA’s first game. “I think I wasn’t as effective yesterday as I should have been. I just tried to increase my play today.”
All 12 American players contributed points, including seven in double digits. In addition to Dakari Johnson, who notched his double-double in just 13 minutes of action; Jabari Parker (Simeon Career Academy / Chicago, Ill.) scored 12; Conner Frankamp (Wichita North H.S. / Wichita, Kan.) contributed 11 points, three assists and four steals; while Joel Berry (Lake Highland Prep School / Apopka, Fla.), Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S. / Fullerton, Calif.) and Tyus Jones (Apple Valley H.S. / Apple Valley, Minn.) scored 10 points apiece. Berry dished out a team-best four assists.
“Our emphasis was getting a good start in the first quarter,” said Don Showalter, USA and Iowa City High School head coach. “The defensive intensity was really good. To hold somebody like the Czech Republic to 22 points in a half means we’re doing something right on defense. First of all, we’re dominating the glass. We’re getting a lot of rebounds. If you can do that, get some deflections, some steals, you’re doing okay. We probably didn’t finish around the basket as well as I’d like, but in the fourth quarter we really stretched it out and played well.”
Following three lead changes and a pair of knotted scores, the Czech Republic took its final lead of the contest, 9-8, on a bucket from Martin Peterka at 5:43 in the first quarter. That would be the last field goal the Europeans would get until the 7:35 mark in the second quarter, thanks in no small part to the USA’s relentless pressure defense.
With 5:23 to play in the period Stanley Johnson went to the line and made two buckets, putting the Americans up for good, 10-9. That sparked a 16-4 run, which featured 10 points from Dakari Johnson over a 4:20 span, and four more from Frankamp as the first period ended with the U.S. up 24-13.
“(Dakari’s) amazing,” said Stanley Johnson. “He’s really good on the boards. He’s reactive, getting offensive rebounds and putting them back up. He ran the floor well, got some dunks.”
Continuing the high-pressure defense, the red, white and blue showed no let-up in the second period and at 3:28 owned a 34-17 advantage. The lead got to 20, 41-21, following a Frankamp three with less than a minute remaining, but the Czechs hit one of two from the charity stripe to bring the score to 41-22 at halftime.
“They’re a real good team,” said Dakari Johnson. “They finished second in the Euro (U16 championship), so I know they’re a really good team. We just came out hot and really broke them down with our defense and limited what they could do.”
The advantage hovered around 20 points throughout the third period as the Czech Republic kept pace with the USA and the stanza closed with the U.S. still up by 19, 64-45.
Not pleased with allowing their opponents to score more in the third quarter than they had the entire first half, the Americans turned up the heat again and in fewer than three minutes, expanded the lead to 72-48. The Czechs went on a 5-2 spurt, but that was halted quickly as the United States outscored the Europeans 21-4 to close the game.
“I don’t think we were keyed in or really focused on the defensive end (in the third quarter),” said Tyus Jones. “We turned that around in the fourth quarter. It’s just something, like I said, where there are times when we still need to pick it up. This was one of those times where we had to pick it up. We bounced back in the fourth quarter and put it away.”
The Czech Republic also had a well-balanced scoring effort as four different players scored eight points each and an additional two had seven each.
The USA outrebounded the Czech Republic 64-35, scored 18 points off of 18 turnovers, notched 36 points in the paint and 18 second-chance points. Further, the USA’s bench outscored the Czech bench 50-19 and the Czechs only managed nine points from the USA’s 22 miscues. The U.S. shot 46.1 percent (35-76 FGs) from the floor, 22.2 percent (2-9 3pt FGs) from 3-point land, while limiting its opponent to just 27.3 percent (21-77 FGs) overall and a frigid 16.7 percent (3-18 3pt FGs) from 3-point.
“We got our bigs going, they played really well for us today,” added Tyus Jones. “The bigs were our key to our victory. They played solid and ripped the paint.”
“So many of them came from traveling calls,” recalled Showalter about the USA’s 22 turnovers. “Now they understand that as soon as they catch the ball, they’ve got to put the ball down right away before they move their feet. Once they move their feet and then put the ball down, it’s a traveling call. It just takes a little bit getting used to. For the most part I think we’re going to do a better job of that as the tournament goes on, understanding what a travel call is.”
In today’s other Group A games, Australia (1-1) ran out to an early lead and earned a 92-55 victory over China and France downed Egypt 78-54. In Group B Croatia (2-0) won out over Canada (1-1) 66-53, while host Lithuania (0-1) and South Korea (0-1) face off this evening (11:10 a.m. EDT) and Spain (1-0) will play Argentina (0-1) in the final game of the night (1:25 p.m. EDT).
The USA is the defending championship at the U17 Worlds, which run through July 8 and feature 17-and-under national teams from 12 nations.
The inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship for Men was held in 2010. The USA captured gold with a perfect 8-0 record and former University of Florida standout Brad Beal was tabbed MVP of the tournament. The event is held every other year (2012, 2014, etc.). The USA qualified for this event by winning the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.