Dubai, United Arab Emirates--After getting off to a slow start and scoring just two points in the first two minutes, the 2014 USA U17 Team (2-0) revved its engine to full speed ahead and stormed to a 99-56 victory over Angola (1-1) in 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship for Men preliminary round action on Saturday afternoon at the Al Shabab Arena in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
All 12 members of the team contributed in the scoring column, including four in double digits, led by Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.), who scored 14 points and had a game-high six of the USA's 22 steals. Also scoring in double digits were Terrence Ferguson (Prime Prep Academy/Flower Mound, Texas), who hit 3-of-4 from 3-point en route to 13 points; while USA Basketball newcomer Caleb Swanigan (Homestead H.S./Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.) contributed 10 points apiece. Further, Diamond Stone (Dominican H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.) grabbed a team-best 12 boards to go with eight points and three blocked shots and Josh Jackson (Consortium College Prep H.S./ Southfield, Mich.) had five points, eight rebounds and a team-high four assists.
The USA's final preliminary round contest will be played Monday (10:45 a.m. EDT on ESPNU/Watch ESPN) against the Philippines (0-1). Following preliminary round play teams will be seeded within each group and all 16 teams will advance to the round of 16, which will be contested Aug. 12. Quarterfinals are slated for Aug. 14, semifinals will be played Aug. 15 and the finals will take place Aug. 16. Should the U.S. men continue to advance, all of their games will be carried by ESPNU/Watch ESPN or ESPN3.
"We had a lot of energy today," said USA head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa), who now owns an overall 18-0 win-loss record in FIBA U17 World Championship Games. "Our guys were really focused today because yesterday was a close game for us. We are preparing the right way for teams. We're not looking past anybody. We're coming out, playing hard to start with. There're always cases in a game where you don't play quite as well, the ball doesn't bounce quite right. But, we had a really nice five, six, seven-minute stretch, and then we'd come back and have another really good stretch. Everybody scored. Everybody contributed a great deal tonight. We were just great teammates tonight. Everyone was cheering for each other. We were happy when our teammates did good things. That goes a long way toward success, when you're being good teammates to each other."
The Americans led from start to finish for the second game in a row, but got off to a slow start. Hitting 2-of-4 from the charity stripe for the game's first points, 2:10 elapsed before the team's first field goal. However, once the squad got going, there was no stopping the red, white and blue.
Giles picked off his first steal and finished with a fast-breaking dunk to put the USA up 4-0 at 7:50, followed by a Malik Newman (Callaway H.S./Jackson, Miss.) steal and Tatum jumper, giving the crowd a glimpse of what was to come.
"Coach talked about deflections this morning," said Giles regarding his defensive effort. "He always talks about getting deflections and stuff. I wanted to get more active on defense. I wanted to be active tonight and improve on something, just play hard and get steals."
With its engine fired up, the United States U17s raced to a 15-2 lead with 4:13 to play in the opening quarter. Angola sunk a pair of 3-pointers in a 47-second span to close to 18-8, but the USA reeled off 11-straight points over the quarter's final 2:35 to take command 27-8 after 10 minutes of play.
In the first period alone the USA, which capped the night with 18 dimes, dished out six assists on nine field goals and had seven steals.
"Unselfishness is everything," added Giles. "When we play unselfish, we'll win all the time. All of us can go for 40 points (a game), but it's not about that. It's about we and not me. We have to share the ball and get everybody into the game."
The quarter not only featured rim-rattling dunks, steals, fast-break plays and plenty of solid teamwork by the U.S. squad, which produced 17 points off of 11 Angolan turnovers, the Americans scored 14 points off the bench and scored 16 in the paint. It also saw the USA defensive press force Angola to a frigid 17.6 percent (3-17 FGs) from the field.
The 11-0 run that capped the first quarter ballooned to a 17-0 run to open the second quarter. Continuing to dominate the floor on both ends, the USA extended to a 32-point lead, 46-14, before heading into the locker room at half with a commanding 50-25 advantage.
The second half was more of the same as the Americans outscored Angola 29-15 in the third quarter and 20-16 in the fourth.
While the USA owned a 54-46 rebounding margin, the Americans allowed Angola to grab 24 on the offensive end, a number that didn't sit well with Showalter. However, he was pleased with the team's six turnovers in the second half.
"We're still giving up too many offensive rebounds," Showalter said. "Angola is long, they're really long; they bothered our shooting a little bit underneath the basket. They got a lot of offensive rebounds. Some of them were because they took a lot of 3s, but overall that's one of the main things we have to work on. I think we had 13 turnovers at halftime and ended up with 19. We only had six the second half. If we get two halves of six, that's kind of where we want to be and want to work on."
Ivan Rabb (Bishop O'Dowd H.S./ Oakland, Calif.), who injured his left ankle during the team's training camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was inserted into the lineup for the first time late in the second half and contributed four points and four rebounds in just eight minutes.
"I think they tried to get me to do everything I could and they were very positive with me," said Rabb. "I think they wanted me to feel like every time I was on the court, something good was going to happen. When I got on there, they made sure I got the ball, I got touches, I scored, I passed a few times. I feel like I played a good all-around game for my first game back."
The USA forced 28 turnovers -- 22 of which were produced by steals by the Americans -- and they resulted in 29 points, whereas Angola only converted 13 points off of the USA's 19 turnovers. Owning a 50-32 scoring advantage in the paint, the Americans dominated on the fast break, 29-4, and its bench outscored Angola's reserves 54-14.
"The bench is definitely important," said Swanigan. "We had 54 points, that's over half our points off the bench. The bench is what makes us the best team in the tournament."
In the other Group A game today, Greece (1-1) downed the Philippines 85-65. In Group B action, Canada (1-1) picked up a 96-52 victory over Japan (0-2) and Australia remained unbeaten after edging France (1-1) 81-82; Group C play saw Puerto Rico (2-0) clip Italy (1-1) 58-51 and Spain (0-1) faces host UAE (0-1) in tonight's late game; while in Group D, Serbia (2-0) earned an 81-63 victory over Egypt (0-2) and Argentina (1-0) takes on China (0-1) in the final game of the night.
Two-time defending U17 gold medalist, the USA now has a perfect 18-0 record at the U17s. The U.S. qualified for this year's U17s by virtue of its gold-medal finish at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
Players eligible for this competition must be citizens of the country they represent and have been born on or after Jan. 1, 1997.
Joining Showalter on the sideline as USA assistant coaches are Eric Flannery (St. Edward High School, Ohio) and L.J. Goolsby (KC Run GMC, Kan.).
2010 was the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship for Men. The USA captured gold with a perfect 8-0 record and Brad Beal was tabbed MVP of the tournament of the biennial event. In 2012 Jahlil Okafor earned MVP honors and was joined on the all-tournament team by Justise Winslow as the U.S. again rolled up a perfect 8-0 slate en route to gold.