Featuring balanced scoring that saw 11 of 12 players score, including four in double digits, the USA Men’s U19 World Championship Team rolled to an 86-75 victory over Argentina Wednesday evening in its warm-up game before the FIBA U19 World Championship that begins July 27 in Heraklion, Greece.
Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.) led all U.S. scorers with 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds; guards Justin Bibbs (Virginia Tech/Dayton, Ohio) and Terrance Ferguson (Homeschooled/Dallas, Texas) each tossed in 12 points; and Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.) accounted for 10 points and six rebounds.
Chinanu Onauku (Louisville/Lanham, Md.) just missed posting a double-double, and finished with nine points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots; while center Thomas Welsh (UCLA/Redondo Beach, Calif.) finished with nine points, six boards and two blocked shots. Jalen Brunson (Stevenson H.S./Lincolnshire, Ill.) passed for a game-best eight assists.
“These two friendlies have absolutely been good for our team,” said USA U19 National Team head coach Sean Miller (Arizona). “Tonight’s game was a grind it out type of game. I think we’ll have a lot of those type of games in the U19 World Championship.
“Our inside guys, specifically Harry (Giles), Thomas Welsh and Chinau (Onuaku) played well at times tonight. I thought we again did a good job rebounding and that was a major factor in the outcome of this game.”
Trailing by three, 13-10, with just over four minutes to go in the opening quarter, the U.S., behind Ferguson’s second and third made 3-pointers of the quarter, sprinted off on a 15-2 run that saw the Americans grab control 25-15 at the first quarter buzzer.
Getting six points from Onauku during a 9-2 USA run that started the second quarter, the U.S. quickly opened a 34-17 advantage with 6:51 left to play before half.
Argentina continued to compete, and after outscoring the USA 19-15 over the remainder of the quarter, at halftime the USA lead stood at 13, 49-36.
Argentina twice in the third quarter cut the U.S. lead to seven points, but the USA answered on both occasions and at the end of three quarters the U.S. led 64-52.
The fourth quarter was more of the same. Argentina reduced the gap to nine on several occasions, but never got closer as the USA went on to record its second exhibition game victory as many nights, winning 86-75 this time.
“These games have been good for us and are helping us become more familiar with each other,” said 6-foot-10 Giles. “We have a lot of good inside players and so playing inside-out helps create scoring chances for our shooters.”
Credited for assists on an astounding 28 of 30 made baskets, the USA for the second consecutive night controlled the glass, owning a 48-37 advantage.
The U.S. shot 48.4 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from 3-point, while Argentina was held to a chilly 36.1 percent shooting overall and just 26.7 percent from 3-point.
The red, white and blue team also dominated in the paint, outscoring Argentina 42-30, and the U.S. bench outscored the Argentines 49-32.
The USA U19 World Championship Team will conduct practices on June 25-26 in Heraklion, and will look to defend its 2013 U19 gold at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship that is being held June 27-July 5.
The American squad opens Group A preliminary play on June 27 facing Iran (10:45 a.m. EDT), plays medal favorite Croatia on June 28 (11:15 a.m. EDT) and finishes off preliminary play against Egypt on June 30 (9:00 a.m. EDT).
Playing in preliminary round Group B will be Argentina, China, Spain and Turkey; Group C features Australia, Canada, Italy and Tunisia; and Group D includes Dominican Republic, Greece, Serbia and South Korea.
All 16 competing teams advance to the round of 16 that will be played on July 1. The winners advance to the medal-round quarterfinals on July 3, while the round of 16 losers will compete out for 9th-16th places. The semifinals are on July 4, and the finals are on July 5.