Though they are through just one game at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, the United States' dominance on the youth world stage doesn't look to be subsiding anytime soon.
Team USA defeated Mexico, 130-31, on Tuesday, flashing brilliance in the open court and signifying to the other teams in Group A that their trip to Uruguay could be a long one.
Diamond Stone led the way for Team USA with 20 points, flourishing both in the open court and down low. Though he sometimes works the ball outside the paint, Stone was tasked with the moniker of "big man" in the starting lineup Tuesday. He grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots to go along with his game-high scoring performance.
Malik Newman chipped in 19 points, including a 4-of-7 performance from beyond the three-point line. Newman actually represented a bit of an anomaly for the United States, as coach Don Showalter's club relied on a multitude of transition buckets and shots inside the painted area. Team USA shot only 6-of-18 from beyond the arc while creating most of their looks inside, falling in line with the relative inexperience of this bunch.
For Mexico, this contest was a calamity of errors from the outset. Most knew coming into the contest that Team USA would outmatch the still-building Mexican youth program. But even as Team USA exhibited sloppy play early in the contest, the Mexican national team was utterly fangless against its more talented counterparts.
The first quarter would ultimately be the least lopsided, as Team USA took "just" a 29-9 lead through the first 10 minutes. That would be the last time Mexico touched nine points. The United States, spurred by turnover-happy defense and slick ball movement in the open court, jumped out to a lead so prodigious that they had to pump the brakes at times and still won by nearly 100 points.
Struggling to even get a shot off for long stretches of this game, Mexico had four times the amount of turnovers (32) than field goals made (eight). The United States scored 43 points off turnovers, 39 fast-break points and a whopping 96 inside the paint.
Though this ultimately resulted on a spot foul on the floor, an innumerable amount of Team USA possessions looked like this:
Forcing those turnovers represented much of the effectiveness for Team USA captain and YouTube sensation Seventh Woods. Perhaps the best prospect in the nation at his age, the 14-year-old Woods stayed mostly in the background and allowed his teammates to shine on Tuesday. He scored only seven points on 1-of-4 shooting, while dishing out five assists.
Woods was, however, the leader on plenty Team USA breakaways down the floor. The young floor general made five steals, pushing the ball down the court afterward and helping Team USA show off excellent ball movement. That being said, the United States will certainly look for him to dominate the ball more going forward.
This victory signifies the continuation of Team USA's reign of impressive, dominant performances at the youth level. A tournament in just its third iteration, the United States has been an absolute monolith in youth play. As noted by Jason Hickman at MaxPreps, the other seven teams in this tournament are fighting some pretty strong recent history.
The United States' U16 basketball team won by an average of 42.2 points per game during the last championships in 2011, as the trio of Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon and Jahil Okafor led the red, white and blue to a gold medal.
Team USA also won in 2009, the first year of the bi-annual U16 event. They are one of eight teams in this year's event, the others being Mexico, Argentina, Bahamas (Group A), Canada, Chile, Puerto Rico and Uruguay (Group B). The top two teams from each group will advance to play in the elimination round later this week.
Coach Don Showalter noted earlier this week that his team's expectation for this tournament was nothing short of a three-peat.
There are certainly no guarantees, but Team USA looked like their overwhelming favorite status was warranted on Tuesday. The favorites will be back in action on Wednesday, as they look to defeat perhaps their toughest Group A competition in Argentina. The Argentines defeated Bahama, 74-53, in an early matchup thanks to a late-game scoring surge.
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