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U17 World Championships: USA whitewashes Japan 122-38, advances to quarterfinals

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USA U17 men’s basketball team received contributions from all 12 of its players in a 122-38 victory over Japan in the round of 16 in the U17 World Championships being held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Aug. 12.

The U.S. (4-0) got off to a fantastic start, reeling off 22 straight points to start the game.

“I thought we did a really good job today,” said U.S. 6-foot- 10 forward/center Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake H.S./Rice Lake, Wis.). “We dominated the game from the get-go. It was a big thing for us because of yesterday to get a good start. We kind of had a lackadaisical start yesterday. We were still up, but that was a big key for us today, to get a big jump on them from the start of the game today.”

Tatum led six players in double figures with 19 points. Malik Newman (Callaway H.S./Jackson, Miss.) scored all 15 of his points in the first half and also contributed a team-high six assists while Diamond Stone (Dominican H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.) posted his third double-double of the tournament with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Josh Jackson (Consortium College Prep H.S./ Southfield, Mich.) was perfect from the field (7-of-7) and finished with 14 points; while Ellenson (Rice Lake H.S./Rice Lake, Wis.) and Taylor Ferguson (Prime Prep Academy/Flower Mound, Texas)chipped in with 12 points apiece.

Rui Hachimura scored all six of Japan’s points during a mini 6-5 spurt midway through the first quarter. Hachimura finished with 25 points to lead Japan.

With the score 27-6 and five fresh faces on the court for the Americans, the U.S. closed quarter on a 14-0 run to take a 41-6 lead.

Jayson Tatum (Chaminade College Prep/St. Louis, Mo.), who came off the bench for the first time in the tournament, ignited the run with a steal and at 3:00 and ended up with seven of the USA’s final 14 points of the first quarter.

“It’s very important to have no let-up off the bench,” quipped Tatum. “Because after you sub in the intensity has to keep up, it can’t drop off if we want to win the gold medal.

The U.S. continued its solid play through the second stanza and led 71-17 at the break. Hachumira scored 16 of Japan’s first half points as the U.S held the rest of Japan’s squad to 0-of-14 from the field.

The U.S., which had 19 assists, shot a scorching 66.3 percent (55-83 FGs) from the field while holding Japan to a frigid 21.6 percent (16-74 FGs) from the floor.

The U.S. will now face China (2-2) on Aug. 14 (time TBD, ESPNU/Watch ESPN). Medal semifinals will be played Aug. 15 and the finals will take place Aug. 16. Should the U.S. men continue to advance, all of their games will be carried by ESPNU/Watch ESPN or ESPN3.

China advanced to the quarterfinals by virtue of a 79-67 victory over Italy. Also advancing to keep their medal hopes alive were Canada (3-1) with a 106-59 win over Angola (1-3); France (3-1) downed the Philippines (0-4) 86-57; Puerto Rico, which remained undefeated, earned a close 86-70 overtime victory over Egypt (0-4); Serbia (4-0) had no problem with host UAE (0-4) 116-31; Spain (3-1) defeated Argentina (2-2) 64-57; while Greece (3-1) earned the final quarterfinals spot with an 84-76 win over Australia (2-2).

Head coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa) now owns a 20-0 record as coach of the U17 squad.