Portions of release taken from USABasketball.com
PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Duke rising sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon scored nine points and grabbed three rebounds to help the USA Men's U19 World Championship Team rout China, 113-57, in preliminary round play at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.
Sulaimon, a 6-4 guard, hit 3-of-9 shots from the field, including 2-of-6 from three-point range, while earning the starting assignment. Team USA improved to 2-0 in the preliminary round of the FIBA U19 tournament.
Sulaimon helped key a dominant defensive effort from Team USA, as the Americans forced China into 32 turnovers with 23 total steals. Team USA controlled the glass as well, outrebounding China 50-14, including 30 offensive boards.
“The first 15 points they scored were on five 3-point shots. We fouled a 3-point shooter on the first possession of the game and then we gave up four threes. I think that’s something we’ve really talked a lot about, defend the 3-point line” said USA and University of Florida mentor Billy Donovan.
“When we really went on our run is when we stopped the three and got some rebounds and got out on transition to score around the basket, which is where we are most effective. I thought it was a good lesson for us in terms of giving up 3-point shots where we’ve got to do a much, much better job. And we did a better job the rest of the game stopping the three.”
China, which one night earlier stunned Russia 71-69, looked confident early on and after scoring its first 15 points off of plays for 3-pointers, the USA trailed 15-12 with 3:36 left in the quarter.
Following a time-out and Donovan stressing to his squad the need to do a better job of defending the 3-point arc, the U.S. went on a 17-2 terrorizing run to finish off the opening stanza and grab a 29-17 lead.
“A big emphasis for our team since day one is guarding the 3-point line,” stated U.S. guard Nigel Williams-Goss (Findlay Prep/Happy Valley, Ore.). “A couple of times early they got free for a couple of open looks but during the first timeout coach really stressed the point to us again and kind of got after us a little bit, and after that we did a better job a taking it away.”
In the first quarter alone, the USA’s hounding press forced nine China turnovers and the U.S. grabbed 10 offensive boards.
The final three minutes of the first quarter were just a taste of what was to come for China.
Pressing full out and using its superior man-power, the Americans put on an impressive display of athleticism and basketball.
Leading 29-20 with 9:48 left in the second period, the U.S. reeled off 16 consecutive points to sprint ahead 45-20, and by the time the halftime buzzer sounded, the U.S. was way out ahead, leading 63-29.
The onslaught continued in the second half and the Americans outscored China 26-10 in the third quarter and 27-18 in the final 10 minutes.
“They got into a lot of rhythm in the first quarter with their 3-pointers but I think our second wave brought a lot of energy and started to disrupt their tempo and their flow into their offense. We seemed to take the spirit out of them with our press and our intensity on defense” said Justise Winslow (St. Johns H.S./Houston, Texas).
Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose, Calif.) led the way for the U.S. with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive end. Michael Frazier (University of Florida/Tampa, Fla.) drained four 3-pointers to tally 15 points; Winslow added 14 points and seven rebounds; Jarnell Stokes (University of Tennessee/Memphis, Tenn.) made the most of his 13 minutes of action and accounted for 13 points (5-6 FGs) and four rebounds; Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.) was credited with 11 points and eight rebounds and guard Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State University/Flower Mound, Texas) matched Okafor’s scoring with 11 points while grabbing five of his team’s 23 steals.
“I think we have the best inside game in the whole tournament,” offered 6’10, 253-pound Okafor. “That’s one thing all of the front row guys talk about, even if we don’t get the ball we should still be aggressive on the offensive boards and still produce that way. We’re just trying to be really aggressive on both ends of the floor.”
The USA wraps up preliminary round Group D play Saturday (2:15 p.m. EDT) facing Russia (1-1).
“Russia is obviously a very capable team; I’ve seen them on film a little bit and we’ll need to do a good job defensively again,” said Donovan
In other Friday games, Russia (1-1) pounded Ivory Coast (0-2) 78-43; In Group A, Spain (2-0) defeated South Korea (0-2) 104-70 and Croatia (2-0) bettered Canada (0-2) 79-66. In Group B action, Lithuania (2-0) drubbed Iran (1-1) 81-40 and Argentina (1-1) kept the host Czech Republic (0-2) winless, handing them a 76-55 setback. In Group C, Serbia (2-0) rolled over Australia (1-1) 78-57 and Brazil (1-1) got the better of Senegal (0-2) by a 72-56 margin.
Assisting Donovan with the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team is experienced and successful college coaches Tony Bennett (University of Virginia) and Shaka Smart (Virginia Commonwealth University) as assistant coaches.
Sixteen countries are competing in the FIBA U19 World Championship. The top three finishing teams from each first-round group advance to the second round that will be played July 1-3, and the 12 teams will be divided into Groups E and F. Each team will play the three new teams in its new group, with preliminary-round results carrying over to the second-round standings. Teams finishing in first through fourth places in the second round will qualify for the quarterfinals, with the opportunity to advance to the semifinals and finals. The quarterfinals will be held on July 5, semifinals are slated for July 6 and the gold medal game will be contested on July 7. Game times will be announced by FIBA at a later date.