Now might be the perfect time to use one of those clichéd “fireworks” puns that I’ve had stored away since last Independence Day, but I’ll resist the temptation.
The United States’ U17 basketball team put on a dominating performance Wednesday night, taking care of China, 116-47, to end the preliminary round of the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship in Lithuania.
The United States improves to 5-0 in the tournament, standing with Croatia as one of only two teams that remain undefeated.
“We looked at the tapes and we were impressed with China,” said USA head coach Don Showalter in a statement. “I take nothing away from China, because I think they’re a nice team…Had we dropped this game, we would have dropped down. We might not have won our pool. We wanted to be able to finish first in our pool. So, our kids were ready. They had intense defense right off the bat.”
Seven players scored in double figures for the Americans, led by Kansas commit Conner Frankamp with 17 points and double-double efforts from both Justise Winslow and BeeJay Anya.
“It’s really nice to have our depth,” said Frankamp. “You can work as hard as you can out there and then somebody will come in for you and do the same thing that you did. There’s no let up.”
Winslow is a Top 15 forward from the Class of 2014, and he tallied 12 points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes.
“I don’t think anybody expected to play this well,” he said. “We knew China was a good team. I think in the first quarter we really intimidated them. From there we just got a jump on them and kept pounding them. Their confidence went down and our defense was relentless today.”
The United States advances to the medal quarterfinals as the No. 1 seed in Group A, set to be matched up with Canada (2-3), the No. 4 seed from Group B on Friday at 8:45 AM EDT.
All games are available to be streamed online at FIBATV.com.