The USA Basketball Men’s U16 team crushed Puerto Rico 110-69 in the 2017 FIBA Americas Championship opener Wednesday in Formosa, Argentina.
ESPN No. 2 ranked high school sophomore Vernon Carey Jr. (University School of Nova South) had a team-high 17 points and 9 rebounds, frosh R.J. Hampton (Little Elm HS) added 16 points with 4 assists, while frosh Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy) and No. 12 soph James Wiseman (The Ensworth School) each chipped in 11 points in the win.
USA was up 34-16 with 7:03 left in the second quarter, but then Puerto Rico turned up the defensive pressure, forcing six US turnovers and closing the gap to 48-35 at halftime.
But then the Americans turned on the afterburners, taking a 79-53 lead after three and outscoring Puerto Rico 31-16 in the fourth quarter for the final margin of victory.
“The first game is always interesting because our guys are nervous,” USA head coach Don Showalter told usab.com. “Puerto Rico has played together for a while. Their guards did a nice job. In the first half, we tried to make the ‘hero’ play where we were trying to throw lobs and had too many turnovers. Then, when we really settled down in the second half, we played the game the way it should be played.”
The US forced a whopping 30 Puerto Rico turnovers, while dominating the Spanish-speaking nation on the boards 52-34, and outscoring them in the paint 58-34.
“We came out in the second half as a much better defensive team,” said Showalter. “We made some simple plays, made the good passes, hit the good shots.”
“The game is not hard unless you make it hard,” added Showalter. “We made it hard the second quarter, but we changed that around in the third and fourth quarter. We went from a 13-point lead at halftime to a 41-point game in the end.”
For more basketball news go to http://www.blacktoptv.com