USA U17 Men Start Slow, Roll To 111-73 Triumph Over Egypt
July 1, 2012 • Kaunas, Lithuania
The 2012 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship Team (3-0) used a smothering full-court press in the second half to pull away from a determined Egypt (0-3) squad for a 111-73 victory on Sunday afternoon in Kaunas, Lithuania. Conner Frankamp (Wichita North H.S. / Wichita, Kan.) and Jabari Parker (Simeon Career Academy / Chicago, Ill.), who shot a red-hot 8-of-10 from the field, scored 18 points each to help the U.S. remain undefeated at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship.
In a well-rounded effort that saw 10 players score at least six points each, Kendrick Nunn (Simeon Career Academy / Chicago, Ill.) tossed in 12 points, while Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.) and Johnathan Williams (Southwind H.S. / Memphis, Tenn.) chipped in 10 apiece.
Following a day off from games, the U.S. will face France (1-2) on July 3 (1:25 p.m. EDT) before closing preliminary play against China (2-1) 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.
“Egypt came out prepared to play,” said Don Showalter, USA and Iowa City High School head coach. “We jumped out to an eight- or 10-point lead early, but then they got back into the game. They felt they could play with us the first half and obviously they did. Our kids just have to understand that there’s not a switch that’s going to turn on or off. They have to come out more prepared mentally than they did today. (Egypt) came out and didn’t hang their heads when they got down eight or 10 points to start the game. They hung right in there, played hard, got loose balls. They outrebounded us in the first half, which doesn’t happen very often, so give them a lot of credit.”
Tyus Jones (Apple Valley H.S. / Apple Valley, Minn.), who finished with five assists, scored six points and Parker had five in a 12-2 opening run as the USA looked as if it would put the game away early. However, Egypt would not back down. Utilizing its length, Egypt disrupted the USA’s inside game, while its offense began to stir and with 1:54 to go in the first period, cut the lead to 20-18. Frankamp hit a three at 1:31 and Williams scored inside off a feed from Jones with 30 seconds to go to give the U.S. a 25-18 lead. Egypt’s Moataz Hosny hit two from the line to close the opening stanza trailing 25-20.
With its team gaining confidence, Egypt opened the second period on a 10-2 run to take a short-lived lead, 30-27, at 7:45.
“We weren’t ready to play,” said Justise Winslow (St. John’s School / Houston, Texas), who had eight points and two steals. “No one came out with intensity. We were lackadaisical out there. We weren’t really focused or concentrating on what the game plan was. We just weren’t playing hard. Once we started playing hard, it didn’t matter about the shots, the jump shots we were making, our defense picked up and we got the lead back. In the first half we just weren’t playing hard.”
Parker drove hard to the basket and converted on a traditional 3-point play to knot the score at 30-all at the 7:34. Joel Berry (Lake Highland Prep School / Apopka, Fla.) took one of his three charges in the game, negating a bucket by Egypt on the other end. He followed that with a driving layup at 7:03 to push the U.S. ahead for good, 32-30. But the squad was unable to shake Egypt over the next few minutes and with 5:28 to play before halftime Egypt hit a jumper and the game was again within two points, 37-35.
“We always say that that’s part of changing the complexity of the game, defensively,” said Showalter regarding Berry’s defensive plays. “First of all it shows we’re playing really hard, and most of the time it takes baskets away from your opponents. It gives us a real shot in the arm, defensively. So, it’s a great thing to have Joel step in there and take those charges. He was taking them against kids who are a lot bigger than he is. He stood right in there and took them. I give him a lot of credit for that.”
Fueled in part by a second charge by Berry at 5:08, the U.S. went to work.
“The position I was in, I was there to take a charge,” commented Berry, who finished with eight points, four assists and five steals. “I tried to work on taking charges more during my high school season. It just rolled over to here. If I take charges, they say it’s a game changer. So, I just decided to take charges and it worked.”
At 4:49 Nunn was fouled trying to attempt a put-back. Making his first try, he missed the second, but Williams was right there for the tip-in. While its defense forced Egypt into consecutive turnovers, Williams grabbed an offensive board and hit a turn-around jumper, then Nunn stole the ball and sprinted in for a layup as the Americans went up 44-35 and Egypt called for time-out at 3:44.
That didn’t stop the USA’s onslaught, however. Fifteen seconds later Berry got a steal and layup, Nunn scored another free throw after a Frankamp steal and the red, white and blue was back up by double digits, 47-35, with 3:10 on the clock.
Neither team was able to convert until the final minute and the USA headed into the locker room up 50-37.
Showalter, who utilized a little full-court pressure in the first two games, had his players press early and often to start the second half. It took about a minute to get going, during which time Egypt scored three points, but then the press had the Americans firing on all cylinders.
“We came out with a lot more intensity in the second half,” said Frankamp. “The first half we were really slow and we didn’t really care as much.”
“After half we turned it up and went full court with our press,” added Williams. “We started working it real good. We started getting steals, started dunking the ball and having fun like we normally do.”
Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S. / Fullerton, Calif.) and Nunn had back-to-back steals, resulting in a pair of Nunn baskets. Those plays sparked a 12-0 spurt that saw Okafor score six points, including a put-back and a steal for a fast-breaking layup. The USA’s run eventually expanded to 22-4 that put the game away, 79-46, at the 2:37 mark. In all the red, white and blue outscored Egypt 36-15 in the third period to go up 86-52 with 10 minutes remaining.
Egypt kept pace in the final stanza, but was never a threat as the U.S. sailed in for the win.
Stephen Domingo (Saint Ignatius Prep / San Francisco, Calif.) shot 3-of-5 from 3-point to contribute nine points and BeeJay Anya (DeMatha Catholic H.S. / Gaithersburg, Md.) finished with six points on a perfect 3-of-3 from the field.
Moataz finished with 13 points and five of Egypt’s eight blocked shots.
After shooting 48.8 percent (21-43 FGs) from the field in the first half, the United States finished the game with its best shooting effort over the three games at 58.8 percent (50-85 FGs), outrebounded Egypt by a 44-38 margin, scored 34 points off of 26 Egyptian turnovers. The U.S. also scored 80 points in the paint, had 21 second-chance points and 16 on the fast break. Alternatively Egypt earned just eight points off 16 U.S. turnovers, scored 42 in the paint, 12 on second chances and eight on the fast break. The American bench outscored its Egyptian counterparts 59-31.
In today’s other Group A games, China edged France 59-53 and Australia (2-1) pulled out a 63-58 victory over Czech Republic (1-2). In Group B Croatia (3-0) remained undefeated after blowing out South Korea (0-3) 124-68, while host Lithuania (1-1) takes on Spain (1-1) this evening and Canada (1-1) meets fellow FIBA Americas team Argentina (1-1) in the final game of the night.
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.