For the second night in a row, the USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team (2-0) passed the centennial scoring mark, and in improving to 2-0 after posting a 109-68 romp over Angola (0-2), displayed balanced scoring and overwhelming athleticism during preliminary play at the FIBA U19 World Cup for Men on Sunday night, July 2 in Cairo, Egypt.
Looking for its third-consecutive gold medal at the July 1-9 FIBA U19 World Cup for Men, the United States has now won 20 straight games in U19 competition. The USA’s last setback was against Russia in the quarterfinals of the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia.
With no games on the schedule for Monday, July 3, the USA men will close out preliminary play facing 2-0 Italy on July 4 (10:30 a.m. EDT). By virtue of picking up wins in its first two games, the USA is assured of at least a number one or number two seed for the medal round of 16.
“I thought we made some strides. We’re defending a little bit better, we still have to talk more. All I’m trying to get them to do is play with great pace and then if it’s not there, run something. You know, just make a play,” stated USA head coach John Calipari.
“I keep telling them, ‘let’s play against ourselves, let’s not worry who’s out there. Let’s just keep seeing if we can execute better, if we can concentrate more, if we can talk more, so by the end of this we’re in pretty good shape and we’ll be a pretty good team.’ ”
All 11 available players scored, and the USA contingent was led by double-double performances from Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech/Snellville, Ga.) and Austin Wiley (Auburn/Hoover, Ala.). Okogie finished the game credited with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Wiley tallied 16 points and 16 rebounds.
When asked what he saw his role on the star-studded team being, the 6-foot-9 and 250-pound Wiley responded, “Just rebounding, doing my role. Scoring when I got the ball, cleaning up on misses and hitting my free throws.”
UK's Hamidou Diallo (pictured) added 15 points, while Immanuel Quickly (John Carroll School/Bel Air, Md.) and Brandon McCoy (Cathedral Catholic H.S/San Diego, Calif.) each contributed 12 points, and Cameron Reddish (Westtown School/Norristown, Pa.) and PJ Washington (Findlay Prep/Las Vegas, Nev.) scored 11 points apiece.
The USA started strong out of the gate, and never trailed. Washington pumped in the game’s first four points and with Wiley scoring four points, the Americas outscored Angola 10-2 to grab control 14-4 with 4:27 to play.
Angola cut the gap to 14-9, but the U.S responded and behind six points from Okogie, closed out the game’s first 10 minutes in possession of a 24-12 lead.
The U.S. stomped on the gas pedal in the second quarter and ended any speculation on the outcome after posting a 20-3 scoring run that ballooned the lead to 44-15 with 4:48 remaining before halftime.
Grabbing a 60-27 lead after completion of the second 10 minutes, the USA went on to lead 83-44 after three quarters, and cruised on in for the 41-point victory.
“You just want to not play against an opponent, but kind of go against yourself,” said Quickley on his mindset going into the game. “Everybody is not as talented as us. They’re good teams but not as talented, so you just want to go against yourself to get better. As long as we defend, the offense will take care of itself. If we defend each and every possession, we’ll be good."
With the USA defense hounding Angola into 36.8 percent shooting for the game, the Americans took full advantage of Angola’s 26 turnovers and scored 60 fast break points.
The U.S. also dominated the glass and set a USA team single-game U19 record for rebounding with 63, including 28 offensive. The U.S. previous record was 59, which was done in games in 2011 and 2013.
Romeo Langford (New Albany H.S./New Albany, Ind.) did not play in the game because of back spasms. He is listed day-to-day.
In the other Group D game Sunday, Italy improved to 2-0 after handing Iran (0-2) a 64-45 setback. In Group A action, Argentina (1-1) pounded South Korea 100-76 and France (2-0) bettered New Zealand (1-1) 80-69; Group B results included Germany whipping Puerto Rico (0-2) 69-49 and Lithuania (2-0) toppling host Egypt (1-1) 88-50; and in Group C play, Spain (2-0) edged Canada (1-1) 78-73 and Japan (1-1) slipped past Mali (0-2) 77-73.
Following the preliminary round, all 16 teams will be seeded according to group play results and will advance to the July 5 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 7 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification. The medal semifinals will be held July 8, and the gold and bronze medal games are slated for July 9.
Assisting Calipari with the USA U19 World Cup Team are Tad Boyle from the University of Colorado and 1988 U.S. Olympian Danny Manning from Wake Forest University.
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