USA U17 team rolls in opening game of World Championships tune-up

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In preparation for the FIBA U17 World Championships that begin in Lithuania on Saturday, the USA U17 team played the first of two exhibition games in a tournament on the Canary Islands on Sunday.

Led by a 26-point, 15-rebound effort from Chicago native Jahlil Okafor (2014), the Americans rolled to a 108-72 win over Latvia in the Gran Canaria U17 International Invitational.

2014 guard Joel Barry (concussion) and 2013 forward Jabari Parker (left toe), who are both dealing with injuries, didn’t play in the rout but each of the ten Americans who did managed to score.

Five other players posted double figures with 2013 forward Dakari Johnson finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds. 2014 forward Justise Winslow joined Okafor in the double-double “club” with 11 points and 13 boards.

“For us, I think it was a typical first game, which is why we want to play this tournament in the Canary Islands before we go to the U17 World Championship,” said head coach Don Showalter to usabasketball.com. “It told us a few things we need to work on. I didn’t think our defensive rotation was real good at times. We gave up too many easy threes.

“Latvia did a great job of moving the basketball and a lot of times our kids were a little late getting there. Our free throw shooting was a little suspect. I think we were only about 50 percent from the free-throw line. So, those are things.

“They’re all things that can be corrected, but our kids were just anxious to play a game after a long trip. I think now they understand the level we have to get to, which is good.”

2014 point guard Tyus Jones dished out ten assists for the United States, who as a team finished the game with 23 helpers.

Next up for the United States on Monday afternoon will be Australia, who beat Spain 71-55 in the other game of the invitational.

Photo credit: Andres Villalobos

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.