Class of 2015 center Diamond Stone had a dominant performance on Friday as the 6-foot-10 Wisconsin native helped power the United States U17 team to an 83-73 win over Greece in the opener for both teams in the FIBA U17 World Championships. Team USA is the two-time defending champion in the event and is off to a strong start in Dubai after beating a tough opponent in the opener.
Stone had 18 points, six rebounds and three blocks in the first half to finish with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for the game as the USA jumped out to a 45-37 halftime lead and held on from there. Class of 2015 guard Malik Newman also added 13 points for Team USA as the Americans shot 27-for-46 from two-point range, 4-for-16 from three-point range and 17-for-21 from the free-throw line for the game.
Class of 2016 wing Jayson Tatum also added 10 points after battling first-half foul trouble and fellow 2016 wing Josh Jackson added nine points, including two electric tip slams on back-to-back plays in the second half.
Greece fought the Americans hard and stayed within eight to 14 points for much of the game as 7-foot-1 center Giorgios Papagiannis — a former top 50 Class of 2015 prospect before going back to Europe to go pro — and 6-foot-8 lefty wing Vasileios Charalampopulos both finished in double-figures with 16 points and 17 points, respectively. But Greece could never seem to get over-the-hump and make a legitimate run at the American lead.
As is the case with many American international teams, substitutions for fresh bodies came frequently and Team USA also often utilized a full-court press or 1-2-1-1 press to pressure the Greek offense.
While Team USA knocked off a pretty good opponent in the opener, it does appear that they’re missing a point guard on this team that can properly facilitate and help get guys open looks. Newman is a solid passer, but he is more of a natural scorer and handling the point out of necessity in the starting lineup.
It’s also worth noting that Class of 2015 top-five player Ivan Rabb did not see any minutes in this game as he continues to battle an ankle injury suffered during tryouts.
Team USA will face Angola in its next game at 8:30 a.m. EST on Saturday morning. You can view the full schedule for Team USA and the roster for the U17 team here.
Here is the box score for Team USA: