SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – Kyrie Irving scored 14 points and Josh Hairston added 11 points as the USA U18 National Team posted a commanding 114-38 win over Mexico on Sunday in the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in San Antonio, Texas. With the win the U.S. is assured of a spot in the medal semifinals and in the process, qualified for the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Latvia. Earlier in the day, Canada, Argentina and Brazil also qualified for the U19 Worlds.
"It's very special, very special (to have qualified)," said USA and University of Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel. "It's one of the goals we wanted to accomplish, but it's not the end goal for this group."
Irving also dished out four assists, had six rebounds and shot 6-of-7 from the field against Mexico in 16 minutes of play on Sunday. Hairston finished 5-of-7 from the floor and added four rebounds and a steal in the win.
It was the USA's show throughout Sunday night. In the opening period, USA racked up a 36-6 lead, and widened the gap to 61-13 at halftime. USA shot 67 percent (26-39 FGs) in the half, and limited Mexico to 14 percent (5-36 FGs). The rebounding margin in the half was 31-12. The second half was more of the same, as USA outscored Mexico 53-25.
"Well, it's tough (staying focused in a game like that)," said Capel. "I thought our guys showed some pretty good maturity in doing it. I thought they came out with the right mindset. We just had to come take care of business. We know we'll have a tougher challenge tomorrow against Argentina, but I thought we did some good things today. Good things to get prepared for Argentina."
USA shot 61.8 percent (47-76 FGs) and limited Mexico to 21.2 percent (14-66 FGs). From three-point range, USA hit 41.7 percent (10-24 3pt FGs) to 22.6 percent (7-31 3pt FGs) for Mexico. There was a huge gap in rebounding, with USA pulling down 58 rebounds, and Mexico 19.
The U.S. squad plays Argentina (2-0) in the final preliminary game on Monday, at 9:00 p.m. Monday's game will be streamed live online and FIBA Americas will also provide live play-by-play stats online at FIBAAmericas.com.
QUOTES Jeff Capel, 2010 USA U18 National Team head coach On keeping the team focused with such a big lead: "Well, it’s tough. I thought our guys showed some pretty good maturity in doing it. I thought they came out with the right mindset. We just had to come take care of business. We know we’ll have a tougher challenge tomorrow against Argentina, but I thought we did some good things today. Good things to get prepared for Argentina."
On playing Argentina tomorrow: "Obviously, they’re so well coached. They do a great job of screening of executing offense. They’re very fundamentally sound defensively. They can shoot the ball; then shot the heck out of the basketball today. They just do such a great job of executing offensively, a good job of screening, cutting. Everything is with a purpose. When you play against teams like that, that’s what makes those teams so difficult to defend."
On qualifying for the FIBA U19 World Championship: "It’s very special, very special (to have qualified). It’s one of the goals we wanted to accomplish, but it’s not the end goal for this group. I wanted guys to come in and work hard and be very, very proud and honored to represent their country. These guys have done a good job of that and one of the things we did was to select 12 guys. The next step in the process we want to get those 12 guys to become a team. We have some really intense practices and really long days. Because of that, I think that’s why you see the camaraderie out there."
Kyrie Irving On playing Argentina tomorrow: "Tomorrow’s going to be a great game. I’m expecting us to put on a great show for all the fans. We’re going to come out there and give the best effort we can."
How do you stay focused in a game like that? "Personally, basketball is instincts. That’s my focus right there. I let my instincts take over on the court and all my teammates help me do that, too. They make my job a lot easier. Playing on this team I don’t have to do the majority of the scoring. I just try to be a complete point guard out there. Just be unselfish. That’s the type of player I am."