Five players scored in double digits Tuesday afternoon as the USA Men’s U19 National Team had an easy time with Egypt (0-3) and recorded a 92-50 win to close out preliminary round play a perfect 3-0 at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Heraklion, Greece.
The win assured the U.S. of the Group A No. 1 seed for Wednesday’s round of 16. The USA will face Argentina (0-3) in a 11:15 a.m. (EDT) game at Heraklion Arena.
As was the case in its prior game on Sunday, the USA dominated from start to finish. The USA squad never trailed in its contest with Egypt, and in fact led for 39:48 of the 40-minute game.
The Americans featured balanced scoring that was paced by 13 points from Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.), Caleb Swanigan (Homestead H.S./Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.); while Allonzo Trier (Findlay Prep, Nev./Seattle, Wash.) scored 12 points.
Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep, Calif./Southfield, Mich.) contributed 10 points. Giles finished with a double-double, adding a game-high 12 rebounds, and also accounted for four assists and two blocked shots in 18 minutes of action.
Jalen Brunson (Stevenson H.S./Lincolnshire, Ill.), who in three games has compiled team-best 17 assists while committing just two turnovers, finished with nine points, a game-high six assists and two steals.
“I think in some aspects our team continues to improve,” said USA and University of Arizona coach Sean Miller. “This was by far Harry Giles’ best game. It wasn’t just because of the points and rebounds, but it was everything. He’s really improving as a defender; he’s playing with great energy and is fun to watch.
"If we go back to where we were as a team and someone like him in Colorado Springs, and I think we look at him now after we’ve played five games, three in pool play (and two exhibition games), he’s improving and that’s the fun part of this, to see young guys improve and also our team continue to develop.”
Jackson got the USA on the scoreboard first, and with the game briefly tied 2-2, Trier scored and Giles followed with four points as the USA was off and running to an 8-2 lead.
Up 8-6 with 5:56 to play in the opening stanza, Swanigan scored to start the USA on a 12-2 run that saw the lead balloon to 20-8.
Leading 24-15 after the first quarter, Egypt scored to open the second quarter and closed the gap to 24-17. But Brunson hit a 3, and then scored off a drive on the next possession to help launch the USA to 16 straight points and a 40-17 lead.
Taking a 47-23 lead to the locker room at halftime, the USA led 67-40 at the end of the third period, and rolled on to the 92-50 victory.
“I like how hard we played towards the end of the game,” said Brunson. “We started out slow but we picked up our energy. We didn’t let anything get to us; I think we just played our style of ball to get the lead we had.”
Outscoring Egypt 25-6 in points off turnovers, and 52-27 in bench points, the USA shot 55.9 percent from the field. Of the USA’s 38 made baskets, 27 were assisted on and the U.S. was credited for 13 steals.
The USA also shined defensively. Limiting Egypt to 28.2 percent shooting for the game, just 14.3 percent from 3, the USA forced Egypt into 22 turnovers.
“I felt like we kept rallying, playing hard and things like that, and even though they’re not that good of a team, you’ve got to challenge yourself to step up and keep playing hard,” stated Swanigan on the USA’s performance.
“It’s always about us getting better for the next game because if we face Croatia again, or we face another team, they’re going to be better so we have to be better in order to win.”
Argentina, the USA’s round of 16 opponent, is a familiar foe as the two teams played in Crete on June 25 in an exhibition game, a game the USA claimed 86-75.
“They do a great job of spreading you out,” said Sean Miller of Argentina. “They shoot the 3-point shot sometimes from four or five positions. I think the other part for us is we’ve been outrebounded the last two games, some of it is a function of our style of play – we’re pressing and switching – but our guards have to do a better job rebounding, our bigs have to a better job of rebounding.
“We don’t want to get into a habit of doing a lot of things well, forcing turnovers, but yet continue to give up second shots. So I think that’s going to be a big of a focus, not just against Argentina but whoever we play moving forward.”
In other preliminary round games Tuesday, in Group A, Croatia (2-1) defeated Iran (0-3) 86-36; in Group B action, Turkey (3-0) defeated China (1-2) 62-51 and Spain (2-1) bettered China (1-2) 62-51.
In Group C games, Canada (3-0) remained undefeated after defeating Italy (2-1) 78-54 and Australia (1-2) earned its first win beating Tunisia (0-3) 93-64. In the evening’s final games, Group D action features host Greece (2-0) going against Serbia (23-0) and Dominican Republic (0-2) squaring off against South Korea (0-2).
With the preliminary round completed, all 16 teams advance to the round of 16 that will be played on July 1. The winners of the round of 16 games 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.