Balanced Effort By USA Paves Way To 106-55 Victory Over Iran In FIBA U19 World Championship Opener
-- Seven USA Players Score In Double-Figures In Win --
Howard Thompkins finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds.
NORTH SHORE, New Zealand (July 2, 2009) -- Contending with an early 10 a.m. tipoff and a chilly arena, the 2009 USA Men's U19 World Championship Team (1-0) quickly warmed to the task and demonstrated a balanced effort on both ends of the court that resulted in a 106-55 victory over Iran (0-1) in the Americans opening game of the Tournament, which is being held in New Zealand. The USA men will continue preliminary play on July 3 facing France in another 10 a.m. (Auckland, New Zealand local time) tip.
Featuring seven players who scored in double-digits, the USA's balanced scoring effort was obvious with 10 of the team's 12 players scoring between seven and the team best 13 points. Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas / Jersey City, N.J.) led the way with 13 points, Seth Curry (Duke / Charlotte, N.C.) added 12, John Shurna (Northwestern / Glen Ellyn, Ill.) and Terrico White (Mississippi / Memphis, Tenn.) each accounted for 11 points, and DeAngelo Casto (Washington State / Spokane, Wash.), Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.) and Howard Thompkins (Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.) scored 10 apiece.
-One thing we did pretty well was shoot the ball and we made some extra passes, made good decisions. We need to cut down on some turnovers, but I think it was a good start," remarked USA and University of Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon. -We know we've got to get better as this tournament continues so this is the first one and hopefully we've got something to build on.
-I think we're going to play a lot of guys. I think that's strength of ours. We don't see a lot of difference between our 12 guys. There's not really a lot of separation. That may be a little different than most teams, but that's what we have so we're going to use that as strength of ours, play a lot of guys so fatigue should not be an issue for us because of that. We really just want to keep our energy and intensity as we rotate 12 guys," Dixon added.
John Shurna posted the USA's only double-double of the game, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Whether it was the early start or cold gym, the USA struggled with its long-range shooting early and trailed Iran 10-8 with 5:00 to play in the opening quarter. However, the 3-ball suddenly started falling for the U.S. after the midway point of the first quarter and after 3-pointers from Gibbs, Taylor and Shurna on consecutive U.S. possessions, the USA pushed out to 17-12 lead . Following a Shurna hoop inside, Klay Thompson (Washington State / Ladera Ranch, Calif.) added another three and the U.S. closed out the period with two 3-pointers from Curry that were sandwiched around a pair of free throws from Shurna which left the Americans holding a comfortable 30-13 lead after the first 10 minutes.
-That's (shooting) one of things the coaches picked this team for, everybody can shoot the ball, stretch the defender and when we're moving the ball well and knocking down shots it's hard to beat us," stated Curry.
Having made six threes in the first quarter, the USA returned to its running game, and while only sinking one 3-point shot in the second stanza, the U.S. still managed to up its lead to 28 at halftime, 55-27.
Outscoring Iran 28-14 in the third quarter to grab an 83-41 advantage, the Americans continued on cruise control and posted the 106-55 win.
-It felt real good, especially because we got the win. I think we all played really well, we played together, it was just a lot of fun playing out there. I think we all had a lot of fun," said forward Darius Miller (Kentucky / Lexington, Ky.) who scored four points and accounted for six steals, five rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.
The USA, which set the tone in the first quarter when it outrebounded Iran 17-3, won the battle on the glass by a 45-23 margin, with Shurna leading the USA with 10 boards, while Thompson added seven. The U.S. shot well, making 55.4 percent of its shots from the floor, including a 12-for-31 3-point shooting morning.
In some of the opening day's other action, Croatia (1-0) defeated Kazakhstan (0-1) 104-74, while Puerto Rico (1-0) battled back to knock off Lithuania (0-1) 80-73, and Spain 1-0) pounded Syria (0-1) 79-53. The evening action features France versus Egypt, Canada takes on Australia, Greece faced Angola and Argentina goes against host New Zealand.
-They're (the USA team) doing a good job, I've been happy with them,' Dixon said. 'We can do some things better on the floor, but off the floor I've been very impressed with their commitment and determination and their preparation for the event, they're excited. They know we haven't won this thing since 1991. We continue to stress that, that's a lot of times where we haven't been the victor so our guys are well aware of that and they understand from that statistic alone that it's not an easy event for us and that we're up against very good competition."
Dixon is being assisted on the USA sidelines by collegiate head coaches Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois University and Matt Painter of Purdue University.
The 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship features 16 national teams comprised of athletes 19-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1990) that qualified through their FIBA zone tournaments. The United States has been placed in Group B, along with Egypt, France and Iran.
The 12 remaining teams were distributed as such: Group A includes Angola, Greece, Lithuania and Puerto Rico; Group C consists of Australia, Canada, Spain and Syria; and Group D is comprised of Argentina, Croatia, Kazakhstan and host New Zealand. With each teams' three preliminary round games schedule to be completed July 4, the top three finishing teams from each preliminary group will qualify for the preliminary second round, while the fourth place teams will qualify for the classification round to determine 13th to 16th places.
The twelve teams qualified for the second round, which will be played July 6-8, will be divided into groups E and F, with six teams in each group. The top three preliminary round teams from groups A and B will advance to Group E, and the top three from C and D will advance to Group F. Each team will play the three new teams in its new group, with the final scores of all games played in the preliminary round carrying over to determine the second round standings.
Teams finishing in first through fourth places in the two second round groups will qualify for the quarterfinals, with the opportunity to advance to the semifinals and finals. Teams finishing in fifth and sixth places in Groups E and F will play for ninth through 12th places. The quarterfinals will be held on July 10, semifinals are slated for July 11 and the gold medal game will be contested on July 12.