The United States’ U19 men’s basketball team rolled to an 86-65 victory against Italy to move into the semifinals of the FIBA U19 World Championships in Greece.
Villanova-bound guard Jalen Brunson (Stevenson; Lincolnshire, Ill.) finished 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting and Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy; Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep, Calif.; Southfield, Mich.) contributed 14 points each. Giles also had 10 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double.
The Americans face host Greece, also 5-0 in the event, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Croatia faces Turkey in the other semifinal with the winners to play for the gold medal Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET.
“We played against a good team tonight,” said Team USA and Arizona coach Sean Miller. “The thing about this tournament is it’s a world championship, and when you start getting into the quarterfinals, semifinals, you’re playing against really good players, teams that have won in this tournament.
“Every game that we play from this point on, the competition stiffens. For us a win by this margin tonight is a great win. We’re excited to be in the semifinals. I will say that yesterday we had 26 turnovers; today we had 22; that’s a real problem. If you think about that, that’s 48 times in the last two games we didn’t get a shot at the basket. I think that’s negating some of the things we’re doing better.”
Italy took an early 10-5 lead and was ahead 16-13 midway through the first quarter but the U.S. finished on a 10-0 run and led 27-21. The Americans started the second quarter with an 8-2 run and the lead was 20 at halftime, 53-33.
“I think we came out with a lot of intensity,” Brunson said. “They made a couple of shots early, but that didn’t discourage us. We ended up winning the quarter by seven points.
“I felt locked and loaded. I just felt comfortable,” said Brunson on his 7-for-10 shooting night. “Once you see the first one go in, obviously, you get more confidence; you make the next one and then just keep shooting. I think it’s a credit to my teammates for finding me as well.
Team USA dominated outrebounded Italy 47-28, which led to 16 second-chance points. Caleb Swanigan (Homestead; Fort Wayne, Ind.) had 12.