(Via USA Basketball)
Saving their best performance for last, and fittingly seeing all-12 members of the USA U17 World Championship Team score, the Americans’ depth and teamwork again proved, as it had all tournament, too much for its opponent and the U.S. ran to a 111-80 victory over Poland (7-1) Sunday to claim the gold medal in the inaugural 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship in Hamburg Germany.
“Best game we’ve had here,” stated USA U17 World Championship Team and Mid-Prairie High School (Iowa) head coach Don Showalter. “I thought we put it all together. I thought every player played his best game today.
“Coming into the tournament we said we wanted to improve a little bit every game and I thought today was just fantastic for our kids. We got great play from our center position. Johnny (O’Bryant) really came to play today and Andre (Drummond) did a great job; and what can you say about our guards and forwards? It was just a team effort, you just can’t single out any one person because they all did a great job,” continued the U.S. mentor.
U.S. guard Brad Beal (Chaminade College Prep H.S. / St. Louis, Mo.), who averaged a USA high 18.3 ppg. and made 47.7 percent (31-65 3pt FGs) of his 3—point tries, was selected MVP of the World Championship, and teammate James McAdoo (Norfolk Christian H.S. / Norfolk, Va.), who averaged 15.0 ppg. and 7.3 rpg., while shooting 65.6 percent from the floor, joined Beal on the five member all-world championship tournament team.
The two squads played evenly for much of the first period and after the USA crept out to a 29-21 lead, Poland’s Daniel Szymkiewicz hit net on a shot from just beyond half court to end the quarter and close the U.S. lead to 29-24.
Poland continued to stay with the U.S. and with 2:54 remaining before halftime the U.S. lead stood at 46-41.
Fueled by points from four different USA players, the Americas closed out the second quarter on a tear, pouring in 12 consecutive points to take a 58-41 lead to the locker room at intermission.
And that was that as the U.S. was never seriously threatened and its advantage never fell below 14 points in the second half. Outscoring Poland 33-18 over the final 10 minutes, the USA had the 31 point win and the gold medals.
“The key to the game was the last two minutes of the second quarter. We were up by five and we stretched it to 17 at halftime so that was a huge stretch for us,’ said Showalter. “Teams in the second half just wear down. We keep bringing people off the bench and our opponents just wear down.”
It was a group effort offensively. McAdoo, Beal and Michael Gilchrist (St. Patrick H.S. / Somerdale, N.J.) paced the U.S. scoring with 20 points, 19 points and 16 points respectively; Chasson Randle (Rock Island H.S. / Rock Island, Ill.) added nine points; and Adonis Thomas (Melrose H.S. / Cordova, Tenn.) and Marquis Teague (Pike H.S. / Indianapolis, Ind.) tossed in eight apiece.
The U.S. outrebounded Poland 46-28 and pounded the offensive glass to the tune of 22 boards. Thomas led the U.S. effort on the glass with eight rebounds, while Johnny O’Bryant (Eastside H.S. / Cleveland, Miss.) and McAdoo snagged seven each.
The endline-to-endline USA defense hassled Poland into 27 turnovers, and the red, white and blue recorded 26 assists, led by Quinn Cook’s (DeMatha H.S. / Bowie, Md.) 11 assists, and Teague added eight.
“They played us tough but our coaches kept encouraging us and then we made our little run and that was it. We’re definitely a deep team and that showed today,” remarked Cook, who finished as the USA’s leader in assists averaging 7.4 per game. “We’re definitely at our best when we’re up and down, (we’re an) up tempo team.
“We got it going a little bit. James and Johnny got some rebounds and blocks; then I was able to get the ball in transition and find Adonis (Thomas) and Brad (Beal) and we definitely ran against them. Marquis (Teague) and Tony (Wroten) did their thing and we came away with the win.”
The USA was dominating from the championship’s first game to the last. Collecting an 8-0 mark, the U.S. average margin of victory was 34.9 points a game as the offense jetted to 107.5 points a game. Outrebounding its eight foes by an average of 13 boards a game, a testament of the team’s unselfishness is evident in the stat that 58.9 percent of the team’s 336 made field goals were assisted on.
The gold medal culminated almost two years of training and competing by the 2009-10 USA Basketball National Developmental Team. Selecting in 2009 a group of 22 top U16 players, the U.S. rolled to a 5-0 record to win gold at the 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Mendoza, Argentina, and qualify the U.S. for the ’10 U17 World Championship.
“Obviously this team is really good. They probably set a pretty high standard for any other U16-U17 teams coming in. To get the first ever U17 World Championship is something these kids can look back on and know they were all a part of it. They have kind of created a legacy,” reflected Showalter.
“Again, coach (Kevin) Sutton and coach (Herman) Harried, we couldn’t do it without those two guys! We really put in a lot of work. Not only just from the standpoint of getting the team ready, but we spent time watching tapes from last year and we thought we were really well prepared coming in and a lot of that has to do with coaches Sutton and Harried. We worked well together and we really showed the kids that as a coaching staff we were all on the same page and working hard and I think that carried over to the team.”
In Sunday’s other finals, Canada rallied back for an 83-81 victory over Lithuania (5-3) in te bronze medal contest; Serbia (4-4) bested Australia (4-4) 74-64 to captured 5th place; and China (4-4) nipped host Germany (3-5) 65- 64 to claim 7th place.
Serving as assistant coaches for the 2009-10 USA Developmental National Team and 2010 USA U17 World Championship Team were Herman Harried, head coach at Lake Clifton High School (Md.), and Kevin Sutton, head coach at Montverde Academy (Fla.).