Entering Sunday’s FIBA Americas U16 gold medal match with Canada the United States had never lost a game in the brief history of the event, going 19-0 with the majority of those wins being by comfortable margins. But they were definitely challenged by a Canadian squad led by the tournament’s top rebounder in 2018 forward Simi Shittu, as Canada led 19-3 at the end of the first quarter with the Americans shooting 1-for-17 from the field.
The United States trailed by as much as 20 (23-3) before turning things around, with 2017 prospects Wendell Carter Jr., Gary Trent Jr. and Jarred Vanderbilt leading the way. They eventually took their first lead of the game in the third quarter, grabbing control of the game in the final six minutes and winning by the final score of 77-60.
However the final margin, coming as a result of the United States closing the game on a 28-5 run, is not a true indicator of how tough the game was.
Shittu led Canada with 18 points and 14 rebounds, with Rowan Barrett Jr. adding 13, and early on they managed to limit the easy looks the United States was able to find against lesser competition. But Vanderbilt (19 points, ten rebounds) served as the catalyst in the second quarter, with Trent Jr. (19 points, six rebounds) and Carter stepping forward in the second stanza.
Both teams struggled with turnovers, combining for 49, but the United States was able to get better looks in the second half and ultimately finished with 46 points in the paint to Canada’s 30.