USA Basketball U19 outscored Iran by 30 over the last three quarters to begin the 2015 FIBA World Championships with an 83-53 win in Group A play at the Heraklion Indoor Sports Arena on the island of Crete in Greece.
Team USA’s top scorers on Saturday afternoon were identical to the order of Class of 2016 rankings:
Josh Jackson (20 points, 10 rebounds)
Harry Giles (14 points, nine rebounds)
Jayson Tatum (12 points, seven rebounds)
Throw in Terrance Ferugson, another top-10 player in the Class of 2016, and the USA U19 team has more players who are rising high school seniors than players who have college experience. But all four are products of the USA Basketball system, as all of them were members of the U17 team that won the FIBA World Championships in Dubai last summer. On Saturday afternoon, it was the high schoolers who ignited a sluggish USA offense.
USA Basketball had a dreadful start, with more turnovers (four) than made field goals, as the team shot 3-of-19 through the first 10 minutes. Problems persisted in the second quarter, as Iran led 22-21 inside seven minutes to play in the first half. But Jackson and Tatum took control, scoring 12 of the next 14 unanswered points, giving USA a double-digit lead heading into the break.
In the second half it was Giles’ turn, scoring 12 of his 14 in the third quarter and putting his stamp on the game with a one-handed jam over the Iranian defender, which put USA Basketball up 60-36 with one minute remaining in the third.
The U.S. was able to impose its will inside, scoring 46 points in the paint over the final three quarters. With so many athletes on the floor, USA U19 head coach Sean Miller’s strategy entering the World Championships has been to speed up the game whenever he can. His team was able to do so on Saturday, forcing 33 turnovers, which resulted in 20 points for the U.S.
Team USA continues Group A preliminary play on Sunday when it takes on Croatia on Sunday and Egypt on Tuesday. The FIBA U19 World Championships began on Saturday and run through July 5.