All 12 USA players scored, including six in double digits, as the USA (1-0) opened the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship with a dominating 105-73 win over Dominican Republic (0-1).
Cole Anthony (Archbishop Molloy H.S./Briarwood, N.Y.) led the USA offensive effort with 18 points, Tyrese Maxey (South Garland H.S./Dallas, Texas) and Coby White (Greenfield H.S./Goldsboro, N.C.) each added 14 points, Matthew Hurt (John Marshall H.S./Rochester, Minn.) scored 12, Armando Bacot (Trinity Episcopal School/Richmond, Va.) tallied 11 points and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Bishop Miege H.S./Shawnee Mission, Kan.) was credited with 10 points.
Additionally, both Bacot and Hurt came one rebound shy of recording a double-double.
In the hunt for a fifth-straight U18 gold medal, the USA Men’s U18 National Team continues play with a June 11 (8:15 p.m. EDT) clash against Panama (0-1) and a June 12 (6 p.m. EDT) game versus Puerto Rico (1-0). Puerto Rico defeated Panama 84-51 in the final game of the night.
“We executed poorly the first half,” said USA U18 and University of Kansas head coach Bill Self. “But, in the second half we looked a little better. Our athleticism and depth really wore them down and they got tired. All-in-all, considering the number of missed layups and the number of missed free throws, it’s pretty amazing that we scored over 100 points.
The USA, which never trailed, held a nine-point halftime edge and expanded that to 17 points at the end of the third quarter. Dominican Republic got two quick put-backs to cut the gap to 13 points early in the fourth period. However, getting points from four different athletes, the USA strung together a 19-0 run over the span of three minutes, and never looked back.
“It was the best stretch of ball,” said Self. “We had a 20-point lead and I subbed the last three minutes of the third and they cut it to 13. And then we put the starters back in and the next thing you know, we go on a 19-0 run. That’s the way it is a lot of times with aggressive, athletic teams. You can putter around and putter around and then a three- or four-minute segment could be the segment that puts enough separation between you, where the other team can’t come back, and that’s what happened.”
“Coach Self sent us in and told us we needed a spark in the first five minutes,” added Maxey, who added five rebounds, three assists and three steals. “We really needed a spark of energy and that’s what we did. We came in, we were flying around defensively, making plays and having fun.”
Despite never trailing, the USA had a tough time putting the Dominicans away early, and held a one-point lead with 2:22 on the clock in the opening period. But the U.S. closed the period on a 7-1 spurt for a 21-14 lead after 10 minutes of play.
At halftime the USA’s lead was up to nine points, 43-34.
“It was just a matter of us getting used to playing with each other,” said Anthony. “We obviously have not been together that long and that was our first real game. So, as the game went on, the team started to glue together and we were really able to find a way to win that game. We just got on a roll.”
The USA returned to the court after halftime with renewed energy that helped propel the team’s first 20-point lead, 61-41, at 3:29. The advantage continued to hover around 20 points, but the Dominicans netted a 3-pointer with three seconds on the clock – the first three points in the Dominican’s biggest scoring run, a 7-0 surge that extended into the final period – and the U.S. entered the fourth quarter up 71-54, before putting the game fully out of reach.
The USA shot 53.5 percent from the field, drained 10-of-25 3-pointers, and owned a 51-44 advantage on the glass. The USA scored 30 points off of 23 Dominican turnovers and outscored the islanders 28-8 in transition.
In Group B, Chile (1-0) utilized a strong second half to put away Ecuador (0-1) 74-62 and host Canada (1-0) earned a 92-75 victory over Argentina (0-1)
Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded within each group, and all eight teams advance to the June 14 quarterfinal games. The semifinals will be played June 15, and the finals on June 16. The top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.