USA U17 Men Set Off Fireworks In 116-47 Victory Over China, Advance to Quarterfinals
-- Medal Round To Stream Live Online At FIBATV.com --
July 4, 2012 • Kaunas, Lithuania
The 2012 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship Team celebrated its nation’s independence in style, improving to 5-0 with a commanding 116-47 rout of China (3-2) to close 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship preliminary round play on Wednesday night in Kaunas, Lithuania. Seven of the 10 U.S. players who entered the game posted double-digit scoring efforts, including two who notched double-doubles.
Advancing to the medal quarterfinals as the No. 1 seed out of Group A, the USA will face Canada (2-3), which finished as No. 4 out of Group B at 3:34 p.m. on Friday afternoon (8:45 a.m. EDT). The entire FIBA U17 World Championship medal round, which includes the July 6 quarterfinals, July 7 semifinals and July 8 finals are available live online via FIBATV.com.
Conner Frankamp (Wichita North H.S. / Wichita, Kan.) was the game’s leading scorer with 17 points, followed closely by Stephen Domingo (Saint Ignatius Prep / San Francisco, Calif.), who scored 16. Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S. / Fullerton, Calif.) contributed 15 points, BeeJay Anya (DeMatha Catholic H.S. / Gaithersburg, Md.) had one of the double-doubles with 13 points and 10 boards, six on the offensive end; Kendrick Nunn (Simeon Career Academy / Chicago, Ill.) and Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.) also pitched in 13; while Justise Winslow (St. John’s School / Houston, Texas) finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and four steals. Further, Tyus Jones (Apple Valley H.S. / Apple Valley, Minn.), who scored seven points, dished out 11 of the USA’s 25 assists.
“We looked at the tapes and we were impressed with China,” said Don Showalter, USA and Iowa City High School head coach. “I take nothing away from China, because I think they’re a nice team. They’ve got a better team than two years ago (at the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship) in Germany. They have some good personnel and our kids took it to heart that we were both at the top of our pool. Had we dropped this game, we would have dropped down. We might not have won our pool. We wanted to be able to finish first in our pool. So, our kids were ready. They had intense defense right off the bat.”
Also advancing to medal quarterfinals play from Group A are No. 2 Australia (4-1), No. 3 China (3-2) and No. 4 Czech Repbulic (2-3); while Group B advances No. 1 Croatia (5-0), No. 2 Spain (3-2) and No. 3 Argentina (2-3). Croatia will play the Czechs, Spain will match-up against China and Australia has been paired with Argentina.
“It’s really nice to have our depth,” said Frankamp, who played 23 minutes off the bench. “You can work as hard as you can out there and then somebody will come in for you and do the same thing that you did. There’s no let up.”
China scored first and at 8:14 sunk a pair of free throws to move ahead 4-2. Joel Berry (Lake Highland Prep School / Apopka, Fla.), who contributed four points, four rebounds and five assists, drove straight to the basket 11 seconds later to tie the score and the Americans never again trailed. The USA’s pressure defense forced China into three turnovers and two missed shots, and less than five minutes into the first stanza, the USA’s lead was 13-4. China scored five straight points, but the U.S. countered with a 9-0 spurt to run out to a 22-9 lead at 1:25. By the end of the first period, it was a 14-point game, 24-10, and six players were on the board.
“I don’t think anybody expected to play this well,” said Winslow. “We knew China was a good team. I think in the first quarter we really intimidated them. From there we just got a jump on them and kept pounding them. Their confidence went down and our defense was relentless today. Everybody was swarming to the ball. We got a lot of steals. We just had fun.”
There was no faltering in the second quarter as the United States strung together a 9-0 run and an 18-0 run and by halftime, the U.S. was up 53-18.
Outscoring China 24-16 in the third quarter and 39-13 in the fourth, the red, white and blue cruised in for the victory.
The USA dominated in every category, outrebounding China 63-37, gaining 32 points from 30 Chinese turnovers, outscoring China 68-20 in the paint, 18-5 on second-chance points and 16-4 on the fast break. Additionally, the USA bench contributed nearly half its point production and owned a lopsided 56-22 win over China’s bench. The U.S. also stymied China into shooting to just 26.5 percent (18-68 FGs) from the floor, while hitting a fabulous 54.3 percent (50-92 FGs) of its shots.
“It’s the Fourth of July,” said Okafor, who is averaging 14.0 points and 9.6 rebounds. So, we wanted to come out hard. Also, this is the game before the medal round, so we wanted to let all the other teams know we are ready.”
In today’s other Group A games, Czech Republic defeated Egypt (0-5) 78-70 and Australia rolled to a 64-42 win over France (1-4). In Group B, Canada defeated South Korea (0-5) 82-61, Croatia fought off a late attack by Spain for a 73-68 victory and Argentina won against host Lithuania (1-5) 92-82.
“Canada is probably more like us from a standpoint from being athletic, being able the kind of ball we’re used to playing in the States, even more so than some of the other international teams,” added Showalter. “Obviously they’re going to be ready for us. We have to be strong with the ball. I know they’re going to be very physical and they’re very well coached. It’ll be a good game for us.”
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.