FORMOSA, Argentina — The Young Americans made it five straight.
Behind 19 points, five rebounds and four assists from eventual tournament MVP Vern Carey Jr. (University School/Southwest Ranches, Fla.), the 2017 USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team (5-0) rolled to a 111-60 victory over Canada Sunday night to claim a fifth-straight FIBA U16 Americas gold medal on Sunday night in Formosa, Argentina.
Puerto Rico downed Argentina, 78-67, for the bronze medal.
Holding Canada to just 29.6 percent shooting from the field (21-71 FGs), the USA shot a sizzling 60.0 percent from the field (45-75 FGs) and saw six players finish in double-digit scoring.
“It felt great, to be honest, because only one person gets that in the whole tournament,” said Carey on the MVP honor. “So, I’m pretty happy. I didn’t think I would get it at all. I felt like I only had one really good game and that was tonight, so I wasn’t even thinking about it. But, it feels great to get it.”
Jalen Green (San Joaquin Memorial H.S./Fresno, Calif.), De’Vion Harmon(John Guyer H.S./Corinth, Texas) and Jeremy Roach (Paul VI Catholic H.S./Leesburg, Va.) each added 13 points; Zion Harmon (Bowling Green H.S./Bowling Green, Ky.) scored 12 points and dished out six assists; and Scottie Barnes (Cardinal Newman H.S./Welllington, Fla.) contributed 10 points.
“Vernon Carey Jr. is a grown man,” said DeVion Harmon. “If you ask me, he’s the No. 1 player in the country. I love playing with him. Seeing the excitement he brings to the games, his diving on the ground, blocked shots, his dunks. The one that he had tonight in the gold medal game is definitely a Sports Center Top Ten.”
USA Basketball has now claimed the gold medal in all five editions of the biennial event, which was first held in 2009, and is a spotless 25-0 in FIBA Americas U16 Championship action. Additionally, USA U16 men’s teams have scored 100 or more points in 20 of its games all-time at the competition.
“It never gets old,” said USA U16 head coach Don Showalter, who has directed all five of USA Basketball’s U16 National Teams.
Canada is the only team over the five-game tournament that managed to gain a lead on the USA and held it for fewer than three minutes.
Canada hit a pair of 3-pointers, sandwiching a Zion Harmon 3, and held a 6-3 edge to open the game. However, following a pair of free throws from Wendell Moore Jr. (Cox Mill H.S./Concord, N.C.), followed by a Moore steal and layup, the U.S. took the lead for good, 7-6. Moore’s four points kicked-off an 11-0 USA run that was expanded to a 23-4 spree that opened the contest up 26-10 with 45 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Canada cut the gap to 10 points at the quarter break, but never got closer. The USA dominated the second quarter, 23-8, and by halftime the USA’s lead was a virtually insurmountable 49-24.
Owning the third quarter 33-12, the USA finished out the game by winning the fourth quarter 29-24.
While the USA just missed breaking its U16 men’s record for most points scored in a tournament by two points – the USA U16 men scored 565 points in 2009 – it did eclipse several other of the USA U16 men’s records. New high-water USA U16 men’s marks also include highest field goal percentage (.568), most free throws made (100) and highest free throw percentage (.704).
“It feels great knowing that I could be one of the 12 guys selected to come out and represent our country in a game that I love to play,” Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy H.S./St. Paul, Minn.) said. “It’s great. In this short of a time-span, I’ve really grown close to a lot of these guys. We’ve spent a lot of time together, and we’re going to continue these relationships after this event.”
“It feels amazing,” De’Vion Harmon said .
— From USA Basketball Communications