CAIRO, EGYPT -- Powered by PJ Washington’s (Findlay Prep/Las Vegas, Nev.) 20 points, the USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team finished off preliminary play with an exclamation point and defeated previously unbeaten Italy (2-1) 98-65 Tuesday night, July 4 in Cairo, Egypt.
"I thought Italy played great, they hit a lot of shots at the beginning and that forces us to bounce back and play some defense more so than the first two games," said Washington, who after three games leads the USA in scoring, averaging at 14.7 point per game while adding 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists a game. "I was just trying to get to the rack, just trying to be aggressive, just playing my game and I felt like it was working for me tonight."
The win improved the Americans to 3-0 and earned them the Group D number one seed for the Round of 16. The USA will next face Mali (0-3), the fourth-place finisher in Group C, on Wednesday with the game time TBA.
"PJ's (Washington) a beast and I don't know how you guard him," admitted USA and UK coach John Calipari (pictured with Immanual Quickly). "If he gets an angle by you, he's tough to stop. And he made his free throws today. He's playing the way we need him to play."
Washington made eight-of-nine field goals en route to his 20 points, and while all 12 USA players posted point in the victory, Cameron Reddish (Westtown School/Norristown, Pa.) finished with 15 points and made three-of-four 3s and Brandon McCoy (Cathedral Catholic H.S/San Diego, Calif.) contributed 13 points and eight rebounds. Austin Wiley (Auburn/Hoover, Ala.) contributed nine points and game-best 14 rebounds, and Immanuel Quickly (John Carroll School/Bel Air, Md.) had a USA-high with six assists to go with five points.
"I like it," said Calipari about his team getting its first real test from an opponent. "I wanted to see when you have a 10-0 lead, okay it's time to get it to 18-2, 22-4. Next group goes in and gets it to 40. We weren't ready for that. So, all of a sudden, we let another team come back and they're in the game with a chance to beat you. Now it's a long way away, but I was happy it happened."
Setting a USA U19 single-game record for rebounds two night earlier with 63 versus Angola, the Americans raised the mark to 67 and outrebounded Italy by 27 boards.
The USA bench contributed 41 points in the win, and 23 of the USA's 31 field goals were assisted on. The USA also owned a commanding advantage at the charity stripe, making 27-of-42 tries, while Italy was just 10-of-14.
In the other Group D game Tuesday, Angola (1-2) downed Iran (0-4) 70-48. In Group A play, Argentina (1-1) pounded South Korea 100-76 and France (3-0) remained unbeaten after downing South Korea (0-3) 87-55 and Argentina (2-1) slipped past New Zealand (1-2) 74-70; Group B results saw Germany (2-1) pound Egypt (1-2) and Lithuania (3-0) thumped Puerto Rico (0-3) 96-57; and in Group C action, Spain (3-0) knocked off Mali (0-3) 62-43 and Canada (2-1) handled Japan (1-2) by a 100-75 score.
With preliminary round play completed, 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.
USA Basketball Photo