Cats lead Team USA to win over Mali
LEXINGTON, Ky. (USA BASKETBALL) – Possessing too much athleticism, too much depth and too much scoring power, the USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team (4-0) won its round of 16 game against Mali (0-4) in impressive style, running to a 117-69 victory Wednesday afternoon in FIBA U19 World Cup play in Cairo, Egypt.
The victory improved the Americans to 4-0 and advanced the USA in its pursuit for a third-consecutive FIBA U19 World Cup gold medal. Next up for the USA will be a July 7 (time TBA) quarterfinals matchup against Germany (3-1), which defeated New Zealand (1-3) 72-65 to also advance.
“We’re playing kind of with units,” said USA head mentor John Calipari (Kentucky). “When we started the game that group didn’t have the intensity or fight, they were just playing. Well, Mali plays really hard. They’ve got a couple of really good players and then after that they’re not as good. But, they play hard so they can make you look bad. So, then we went to the other group and that group went in and played out of their minds, so I left them in. They got us up 20, so they stayed in.
“But then in the second half that group that I started played well and so I left them in. I’m not sure I want to play groups like this, but they are getting to learn to play together petty well and maybe it’s six or seven in a group, then I play the other guys and see how they are and give them some minutes,” added Calipari.
For a second consecutive night, PJ Washington (Findlay Prep/Las Vegas, Nev.) paced the potent USA offensive effort with 20 points.
“I just felt like I had to be a little bit aggressive. I felt like I could get by my man every time, so I just tried to do that and make plays for my team,” said Washington, who also added eight rebounds and three assists in his 18:05 of playing time.
In a game in which all 12 USA players recorded points, in addition to Washington, five others reached double digits. Brandon McCoy (Cathedral Catholic H.S/San Diego, Calif.) worked his way to a double-double, finishing with 19 points and 13 rebounds; while Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky/Queens, N.Y.) added 14 points; Louis King (Hudson Catholic H.S./Columbus, N.J.), Payton Pritchard (Oregon/West Linn, Ore.) and Cameron Reddish (Westtown School/Norristown, Pa.) each scored 11 points; and Carsen Edwards (Purdue/Atascocita, Texas) finished with 10 points.
“I thought Louis King was unbelievable. I thought he played well. And Brandon (McCoy), again we missed shots, and he’s sticking them back in,” said Calipari.
Mali battled the USA in the game’s early goings, and although the U.S. never trailed, the score was tight for the first five minutes.
Holding a 13-9 lead with 5:05 left in the first quarter, a basket from Pritchard and two 3s from Lewis, helped get the USA rolling and the team outscored Mali 17-1 to cap the opening quarter owning a 30-10 lead.
The USA expanded its lead to 40-18, however, Mali battled back and reeled off nine straight points to cut the lead to 40-23. At halftime, the USA led 50-31.
Mali continue to play with energy, and after outscoring the USA 13-6 during the first four minutes of the third period, found itself back in the game and only trailing 56-44.
The USA’s 6-foot-10 center McCoy helped right the ship with four straight points and the USA marched on to outscore Mali 20-7 over the third quarter’s final 5:45 to take a 76-51 lead into the fourth quarter.
Pouring in 41 points in the final 10 minutes, the USA went on to post the 117-69 win.
The U.S. was relentless on the glass, outrebounding Mail 65 to 29, which helped it record 32 second chance points compared to Mail’s 11.
With Reddish passing for six assists, and Pritchard and Edwards each adding five more assists, the USA recorded 33 total assists on 43 made baskets.
In other round of 16 games Wednesday, Canada (3-1) pounded Angola (1-3) 87-65; Italy (3-1) scored in the final seconds to edge upset-minded Japan 57-55 (1-3); Spain (4-0) easily defeated Iran (0-4) 70-50; Lithuania (4-0) went over 100 versus South Korea (0-4) and posted a 110-63 win; France (4-0) continued to roll and whipped Puerto Rico (0-4) 84-66; Germany beat New Zealand 72-65, while Argentina (2-1) plays host Egypt (1-2) in the day’s final contest.
The round of 16 winners now 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.