If the preliminary round of the FIBA U17 World Championships was any indication, then the future of United States basketball is in good shape.
The USA Basketball U17 team rolled through the preliminary round in Hamburg, Germany, posting a 5-0 record and easily qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Eight of the 12 teams in the tournament move on to quarterfinal action, but none were more impressive than the United States. USA scored 100-plus points in four of the five games, including a 132-point outburst against Egypt. Even more impressive, it was a balanced offensive effort.
Team USA will now face the fourth-place finisher in Group B (likely Australia or Spain) in the quarterfinals on Friday. The semifinals are set for Saturday and the gold- and bronze-medal games will take place Sunday.
Here is a recap of the United States’ five preliminary games:
USA 82, Argentina 70
Michael Gilchrist tallied 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Americans past a tough Argentina squad. The United States beat Argentina in last year’s FIBA Americas U16 gold medal game, and had an idea what they’d be up against. Argentina held a brief second-half lead, 50-48, but a 13-0 United States run in the third quarter ended the drama.
USA 102, Lithuania 66
All 12 players scored for the United States in the rout, led by James McAdoo’s 16 points, seven rebounds and three steals. USA had 27 assists and shot 56.1 percent from the field, overcoming a sloppy 25 turnovers to run away with the victory.
USA 113, China 73
Despite going well over 100 points, it was the USA defense that shined against China. Team USA forced 36 turnovers thanks to a full-court press. The Americans were credited with 27 steals. McAdoo scored 26 points on 13-of-14 shooting, while Brad Beal added 20 points and Quinn Cook had seven points and 13 assists.
USA 132, Egypt 64
The offensive explosion was the highest scoring total in the preliminary rounds, and it was a balanced effort by Team USA. Brad Beal led the team with 18 points, while Michael Gilchrist, Justin Anderson and Chasson Randle all scored 16. Marquis Teague added 12, while Andre Drummond and Adonis Thomas scored 11.
USA 112, Serbia 75
The Americans trailed by nine points in the first quarter before turning it on and cruising to the 37-point victory. Brad Beal scored 20 points to lead Team USA, while James McAdoo had 15 points, 13 rebounds, four blocked shots and four steals.