June 28, 2013
The USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team improved to 2-0 at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships Friday, employing a smothering defensive attack that forced 32 turnovers during a 113-57 preliminary-round win over China in Prague, Czech Republic.
Tennessee rising junior Jarnell Stokes started for the American squad and scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting. The power forward from Memphis, Tenn., also pulled down four rebounds and recorded a steal in 13 productive minutes of action.
"China shot the ball very well from (3-point range), but our strength and athleticism eventually wore them down," Stokes said. "The more we play, the better the competition gets. As starters, we have to set the tone early."
Through two contests, Stokes is averaging 12.5 points (third on the team) and 4.0 rebounds per game.
Team USA corralled 30 offensive boards Friday and out-rebounded the Chinese 50 to 14. Early on, however, China made things interesting.
"The first 15 points they scored were on five 3-point shots," USA head coach Billy Donovan said. "We fouled a 3-point shooter on the first possession of the game, and then we gave up four threes. I think that's something we've really talked a lot about, defend the 3-point line.
"When we really went on our run is when we stopped the three and got some rebounds and got out on transition to score around the basket, which is where we are most effective. I thought it was a good lesson for us in terms of giving up 3-point shots where we've got to do a much, much better job. And we did a better job the rest of the game stopping the three."
China, which stunned Russia 71-69 Thursday, looked confident early on, as the USA trailed 15-12 with 3:36 left in the first quarter.
The U.S. then went on a 17-2 run to finish off the opening stanza and grab a 29-17 lead.
Leading 29-20 with 9:48 left in the second period, the U.S. reeled off 16 consecutive points to sprint ahead 45-20, and by the time the halftime buzzer sounded, the Americans led 63-29.
The onslaught continued in the second half and the Americans outscored China 26-10 in the third quarter and 27-18 in the final 10 minutes.
Team USA wraps up preliminary-round Group D play Saturday against Russia (1-1).
"Russia is obviously a very capable team," Donovan said. "I've seen them on film a little bit, and we'll need to do a good job defensively again."
In other Friday games, Russia (1-1) pounded Ivory Coast (0-2) 78-43; In Group A, Spain (2-0) defeated South Korea (0-2) 104-70 and Croatia (2-0) beat Canada (0-2) 79-66. In Group B action, Lithuania (2-0) drubbed Iran (1-1) 81-40 and Argentina (1-1) kept host Czech Republic (0-2) winless, handing them a 76-55 setback. In Group C, Serbia (2-0) rolled over Australia (1-1) 78-57 and Brazil (1-1) got the better of Senegal (0-2) by a 72-56 margin.