CAIRO Playing its second exhibition game in as many days, this time facing medal favorite and 2016 Europe zone U18 gold medalist France, the USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team relied on balanced scoring and another strong defensive effort to claim an 82-60 victory.
Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky/Queens, NY) led the USA offense scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting. PJ Washington (Findlay Prep/Las Vegas, Nev.) contributed 13 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Brandon McCoy (Cathedral Catholic H.S/San Diego, Calif.) and Austin Wiley (Auburn/Hoover, Ala.) each added nine points and seven rebounds. Cameron Reddish (Westtown School/Norristown, Pa.) was credited with six points, six rebounds and a team-best six assists
“I don’t know what our assist-to-turnover ratio was, but I think it was pretty good. We rebounded well. I think our big guys, both (Austin) Wiley and Brandon McCoy, are playing well,” said John Calipari, USA and University of Kentucky head coach.
“Tonight, I tried to play 10 guys a half. It made it easier for me to coach and them to play, because I told them prior to the game, ‘You two will not play in the first half. I’m playing these 10.’ And then in the second half I said ‘I’m playing you 10, and that’s it.’”
The USA behind five points from Diallo, jumped out to a 9-0 lead before the game was three minutes old, but France countered to even the score at 13. The USA scored the first quarter’s final three points to take a 21-17 lead headed in the second period.
France drained a 3 to open the second stanza and cut the deficit to 21-20. Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech/Snellville, Ga.), who finished with seven points and four boards, slammed home two points to launch the Americans on a 13-0 run that ballooned their lead to 34-20 with 5:33 to play in the quarter. France outscored the USA 13-7 to close the second period, and at halftime the U.S. owned a 41-33 advantage.
With 5:03 to go in the third quarter, the USA lead stood at 11, 51-40. With Edwards swishing a pair of 3s and accounting for seven points, the USA outscored France 15-2 over the remainder of the quarter and entered the fourth quarter owning a comfortable 66-42 lead.
The USA lead never fell to less than 19 points in the fourth quarter as the USA rolled in for the 82-60 win.
“As a team, we played together defensively and it just led to easy points offensively,” said Okogie, one of five players with a college season under their belts. “We kept good pressure, we were disruptive, we were able to get a lot of deflections. Offensively we did a good job of screening for one another, getting each other open and looking for one another and getting open shots, which is all we can ask for.
On the night, the U.S. shot 49.2 percent (29-59 FGs), including 6-of-23 from 3-point, and outrebounded a tall French squad 41-37 (including 11 offensive boards). France shot a cool 25.3 percent (24-68) from the field, 34.6 percent (9-26) from 3-point, and was forced into 21 turnovers.
The USA outgunned France 46-28 in points in the paint and scored 28 fast break points to France’s 11.
“I felt like on the defensive end we pressed out and played great defense, we got a lot of rebounds, got out on fast breaks and just converted on those,” said Washington. “If we get stops I feel like offense comes easy for us. I feel like we’re not a half court team that we’re more of a fast break team, so good defense is really important for us.
The USA will complete its training Friday, then as the 2013 and 2015 FIBA U19 World Champion, the United States will look for a third-consecutive gold medal at the July 1-9 FIBA U19 World Cup for Men in Cairo, Egypt.
The United States will open preliminary round action versus Iran on July 1 (11:30 a.m. EDT), then face Angola on July 2 (12:15 p.m. EDT) and will cap preliminary round action versus Italy on July 4 (10:30 a.m. EDT).
Following the preliminary round, all 16 teams will be seeded according to group play results and will advance to the July 5 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 7 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification. The medal semifinals will be held July 8, and the gold and bronze medal games are slated for July 9.
FIBA Men’s U19 World Cup History
Now titled the FIBA U19 World Cup and played every two years, the event originally was known as the FIBA Junior World Championship from 1979 through 2003 and as the FIBA U19 World Championship from 2005-2009, and it was played every four years from 1979 through 2007.
In the 12 previous U19 competitions held, the USA men’s teams have won six gold and three silver medals, including gold in three of the past four U19 championships (2009, 2013 and 2015). USA U19 teams have compiled an 85-13 all-time win-loss record.
Starting Immanuel Quickley (The John Carroll School/Bel Aire, Md.), Reddish, Diallo, Wiley and Washington in the USA’s first exhibition game versus Lithuania on Wednesday, coach Calipari elected to go with the same five starters versus France.