CAIRO, EGYPT (July 8, 2017) – The USA’s pursuit of a third-consecutive FIBA U19 World Cup for Men title came to an end in the semifinals on Saturday night in Cairo, Egypt, when Canada (5-1) handed the USA a 99-87 loss.
Winners of the 2013 and 2015 U19 World Cups, the USA will meet Spain (5-1) in Sunday’s bronze medal game at 1 p.m. EDT. Canada and Italy (5-1), which defeated Spain 66-63 in the day’s other semifinal game, will play for the gold medal.
The USA, which in its first five victories had allowed opponents an average of 61.8 points a game, saw Canada explode for 99 points with 38 coming from 6-foot-7 guard R.J. Barrett.
“We got 30 offensive rebounds. We scored enough points to win,” said USA head coach John Calipari (Kentucky). “But then it came down to some breakdowns defensively, and the other thing was, RJ (Barrett) had it going. I told the team after the game, I needed to try some different things – go zone, trap pick and roll, trap him. I kind of rode it because I thought we would figure out something, and that is my mistake.
“But, the reality was, one kid really went crazy, and then the rest of their kids did what they did, so hats off to them. Congratulate Canada, they deserved to win the game.”
Following a Barrett basket, Canada led 15-14 with 2:33 left in the first quarter. Getting four points from Brandon McCoy (Cathedral Catholic H.S/San Diego, Calif.), the USA went on a 9-0 run to jump back ahead 23-15. Barrett closed out the quarter’s scoring with a basket with 3.5 seconds left to cut the lead to 23-17.
With the USA owning a 30-22 lead with 7:37 to play in quarter two, Canada went on a 11-1 run to take a 33-31 lead with 4:16 left before halftime.
Payton Pritchard (Oregon/West Linn, Ore.) connected on back-to-back 3s to help the USA keep pace with Canada, and following a traditional 3-point play by Louis King (Hudson Catholic H.S./Columbus, N.J.) with 54 seconds left, the score was tied 42-42. But, with 1.3 seconds remaining before the second quarter buzzer, Barrett was fouled on a deep 3 attempt, and after sinking all three free throws, Canada headed to the locker room with a 45-42 lead and Barrett having accounted for 25 of those points.
Following three free throws by Immanuel Quickly (John Carroll School/Bel Air, Md.), the USA took a 53-52 lead with 5:32 to play in the third. However, Canada rallied back behind seven-straight points to grab momentum and the lead, 59-53.
With Canada leading 66-59 heading into the final period, the USA got as close as four points twice, the second one coming with 5:48 to play, 76-72. But Danilo Djurcic hit a 3 and Barrett made a free throw to complete a 3-point play to push Canada ahead 82-72 with just over five minutes remaining.
The U.S. closed the gap to six points, but for every comeback attempt the USA mounted, Canada fought off the rally to earn the win.
“One of their guys – RJ Barrett – he had a really good game. That was tough. He hurt us quite a bit. At times, we needed stops and we just couldn’t get a rebound, things like that. Again, it was just a tough game,” said Carsen Edwards (Purdue/Atascocita, Texas).
The USA efforts was paced by PJ Washington (Findlay Prep/Las Vegas, Nev.) who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Pritchard added 16 points, Austin Wiley (Auburn/Hoover, Ala.) scored 13 points and grabbed a USA U19 single-game record-tying 17 rebounds, and Edwards finished with 12 points.
The USA pounded the glass and grabbed 62 rebounds, including 30 offensive boards, and outrebounded Canada by nine. But the USA’s gold medal hopes were hurt by frigid shooting as the USA made just 32.9 percent of its field goal attempts (28-85 FGs), and was only 25-of-43 (.581 percent) from the foul line.
“From the jump our energy wasn’t there. Defensively, we just weren’t there. Nobody should have that many points on us,” said Pritchard. “We just weren’t locked in, honestly. Like I said, our defense will win for us, but we didn’t show up today on defense.”
Canada’s 99 points were the most given up by a USA team since the 2011 U19 World Cup when Lithuania scored 105 in a 107-105 overtime loss to the USA.
In Saturday’s other games, Lithuania (5-1) downed Argentina (3-3) 85-77 and Germany (5-1) knocked off France (4-2) 86-60 in the fifth to eighth place classification games. Puerto Rico (2-4) beat New Zealand (2-4) 74-70 and Japan (3-3) edged host Egypt (2-4) 76-73 in overtime in the ninth to 12th place classification games, while Angola (2-4) handled Iran (0-6) 73-54 and South Korea (1-5) slipped past Iran 81-77 in the 13th to 16th place semifinal games.
Assisting Calipari with the USA U19 World Cup Team are Tad Boyle from the University of Colorado and 1988 U.S. Olympian Danny Manning from Wake Forest University.