Inside Dominance Leads USA To Convincing 83-64 Win Over Brazil
June 18, 2012 • Sao Sebastiáo do Paraiso, Brazil
Getting points from every member of the USA U18 Team, including a game high 22 points from Jarnell Stokes (University of Tennessee/Memphis, Tenn.) and 15 more from Julius Randle (Prestonwood Christian Academy/ McKinney, Texas), the USA downed host Brazil (2-1) 83-64 Monday night at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men in Sao Sebastiáo do Paraiso, Brazil.
“I was able to use my strength and size that God blessed me with,” said Stokes, who scored14 of his 22 points in the first half. “Luckily I got a lot of easy baskets from my teammates such as Rodney (Purvis) who came in and gave us some good minutes, Marcus (Smart), Nate (Britt) So the guys really got me going early.”
The win earned the U.S. a qualifying spot in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, improved the Americans record to 3-0, and earned them the Group A No. 1 seed for Tuesday’s medal round semifinals.
The USA will face 2-1 Argentina, second place finishers in Group B, in the 5 p.m. (EDT) semifinal game. Canada (3-0) earned Group B No. 1 seed and will face host Brazil in the other medal round semifinal contest at 8 p.m.
“Argentina is a really, really physical team. They really execute very well; they’re tough; they run a lot of different actions and that’s so hard,” said USA and University of Florida head coach Billy Donovan. “We’ll have a little bit of time in the morning to talk about them and get our guys familiar with Argentina, but I think right now the four teams left that are going to be playing for a medal – Brazil, USA, Argentina and Canada – all four of those teams have a unique style and some things they can hang their hat on and I think Argentina hangs their hat on their execution and being a physical, tough team.”
After jumping out ahead 6-3, the U.S. found itself trailing for the first time in the tournament. Down 9-8 with 5:15 left in the opening quarter, Donovan’s USA squad got points from four different players and went on an 11-0 run that left them leading 19-9 with 1:56 to play in the period.
Following an offensive put back by Stokes and one free throw by Rodney Purvis (Upper Room Christian/ Raleigh, N.C.), the USA lead stood at 22-11. But Brazil’s Deryk Evandro Ramos gave his faltering team some much needed inspiration when he drained a deep 3-pointer with just :03 left in the first quarter.
Owning a 29-19 advantage with 7:53 to play before halftime, the USA offense went on a scoring binge and posted a 19-4 run to push its lead to a sizeable 48-23 margin with 1:04 left before half. The U.S. game deciding run was capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Sam Dekker (Sheboygan Lutheran H.S./Sheboygan, Wis.).
Leading 49-28 to start the third, Brazil was still down 21, 57-36, with 6:10 to go. The home country got its near capacity crowd something to cheer for when it outscored the USA 9-0 which reduced the deficit to 57-45 with 3:36 to play in the quarter.
Dekker halted the Brazilian streak with a steal and layup, then James Robinson (DeMatha Catholic H.S./Mitchellville, Md.) converted a fast break to lift the U.S. to a 61-45 lead.
“I think this was something we needed going into the medal round just because the first two games at halftime were non-competitive. Playing almost a road game against Brazil was a good environment, you knew they were going to continue to fight and battle. I though at the start of the second half we didn’t handle that real well, but we kind of settled down and were able to get the lead back up to 20. I thought it was a game where we saw some adversity, which we had not seen in the first two games, which was good for us,” commented Donovan.
“I thought we showed a lot of maturity in that first half. When we got up by 21 I think we probably let our guard down a little bit and didn’t handle the second half as well as we did the first half.” While Brazil never allowed the USA to put the game away until the final minutes, the U.S. did its part and never let Brazil get any closer than 13 points in the fourth period.
“Jarnell (Stokes) was really great, he really gave us great minutes,” stated Donovan. “Jarnell really stayed the course and gave us a great presence; he had a really good solid game in around the basket. I though Julius (Randle) also played very, very well. As the game wore on he impacted the game a little bit more."
Also aiding the U.S. in the win were Marcus Smart (Marcus H.S./Flower Mound, Texas), nine points, five rebounds, a U.S. high six assist and four steals; Rasheed Sulaimon (Strake Jesuit College Prep/Houston, Texas), nine points, and Dekker added eight points.
The U.S. made 50 percent of its shots for the night, including 5-18 3-point tries. Limiting Brazil to 34.7 percent shooting from the floor and just 21.1 percent from 3-point, the USA also battled t a 43-39 edge on the boards.
In the day’s other games, the U.S. Virgin Islands (1-2) earned their first victory after nipping Mexico (0-3) 81-79. Canada (3-0) upended Argentina (2-1) 75-68, while Colombia (1-2) recorded its first win after defeating Puerto Rico (0-3) 72-65.
Eight teams are competing in the 2012 U18 Americas zone qualifier, including the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. The U.S., Canada, Brazil and Argentina each earned a qualifying berth in next summer’s 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship.
In the hunt for a sixth gold medal, USA men's teams are 38-2 overall in previous FIBA Americas U18 Championships (formerly known as the Junior World Championship Qualifier), and have captured gold in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010, while winning a silver in 2008 and a bronze medal in 2002.
Serving as USA assistant coaches are Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few and Shaka Smart from Virginia Commonwealth University.