July 7, 2009
AUCKLAND, New Zealand--On an off shooting night, the USA Men's Under-19 Team (5-0) relied on what has become its usual balanced offensive effort for point production, and turned to a defensive performance that allowed just two field goals in the final 13 minutes of the first half as the USA captured its fifth straight win with a convincing 82-61 victory over Puerto Rico (3-2) Tuesday night in FIBA Under-19 World Championship play in Auckland, New Zealand.
The win insured the USA of the No. 1 seed for the Second Round Group E for the July 10 medal round quarterfinals. The U.S. will face the Group F No. 4 seeded team, a team still to be determined. The United States will wrap up its Second Round play Wednesday facing European power Lithuania (3-2) in a 7:30 p.m. (Auckland local time) game.
"We were all just trying to playing team defense, help each other out and we were trying to force them into tough shots. They got a lot of high percentage shots throughout the tournament and they were making them so we just tried to force them into bad shots and it worked out for us," said USA forward Darius Miller.
Pitt's Aston Gibbs started at point guard for the Americans. He played 22 minutes, scored eight points and finished with two assists and one steal on 3-10 shooting (1-5 from 3-point range).
The USA's clash against Puerto Rico was a game in which the USA never trailed. Although the red, white and blue squad shot just 36.5 percent from the field overall, and made only 29.4 percent (10-34 3pt FGs) from 3-point, the U.S. had the 3-ball falling early and quickly ended all suspense for this contest.
Klay Thompson (Washington State / Ladera Ranch, Calif.) opened the game's scoring with a three and added a second at the 6:43 mark to help the U.S. take an 8-4 lead.
Puerto Rico evened the score at 11 after Mike R0sario, who plays at Rutgers University, drained 3-pointer. That was the last moment of hope for Puerto Rico.
The U.S. blew the game wide open with a 24-2 run that covered the last 2:41 of the first quarter and the first 5:12 of the second quarter. During the game deciding run Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh / Scotch Plains, N.J.) and Seth Curry (Duke / Charlotte, N.C.) each tallied six points, Terrico White (Mississippi / Memphis, Tenn.) contributed five points, and Howard Thompkins (Georgia / Lithonia, Ga.) added four more in the massive run.
Outscoring Puerto Rico 9-2 over the final 2:31 of the opening quarter to grab control 20-13, the Americans opened the second quarter by scoring 15 straight points to take full control 35-13. Of Puerto Rico's six points in the second period, four came on free throws as the islanders made just 1of-16 shots from the field.
Leading comfortably at halftime 43-19, the USA lead hovered around 20 points for the remainder of the game as Puerto Rico offensively was continually harassed by the USA defense. Puerto Rico star guard Rosario, who scored 54 points (18-29 FGs, 9-13 3pt FGs, 9-10 FTs) in his team's last second 90-89 win over France on Monday, managed to score just 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting.
Puerto Rico closed the night making just 24-of-72 shots, including 6-of-16 from 3 point. The Americans also controlled the boards, outrebounding their opponents 51 to 42, as the USA snagged an impressive 17 offensive boards.
Thompkins for the second straight night led the USA's scoring, compiling 14 points and adding a team best nine rebounds and one blocked shot in 18 minutes of action. Gordon Hayward (Butler / Brownsburg, Ind.) added 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists, three blocked shots and three steals in 18 minutes as well. Curry and Thompson each contributed nine points, while Gibbs and Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas / Jersey City, N.J.) scored eight apiece.
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