The USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team improved to 3-0 at the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship Monday, as Tennessee rising sophomore Jarnell Stokes logged a team-high 22 points and eight rebounds during an 83-64 win over Brazil in Sao Sebastiáo do Paraiso, Brazil.
A native of Memphis, Tenn., Stokes shot 11 of 14 from the floor, and the Americans shot 50 percent overall in the victory.
"I was able to use my strength and size that God blessed me with," said Stokes, who scored14 of his 22 points in the first half. "Luckily I got a lot of easy baskets from my teammates. The guys really got me going early."
The win earned the U.S. a qualifying spot in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, improved the Americans’ record to 3-0, and earned them the Group A No. 1 seed for Tuesday's medal round semifinals.
The USA will face 2-1 Argentina, second place finishers in Group B, in the 5 p.m. ET semifinal game. Canada (3-0) earned Group B No. 1 seed and will face host Brazil in the other medal round semifinal contest at 8 p.m. ET.
"Argentina is a really, really physical team. They really execute very well; they're tough; they run a lot of different actions and that's so hard," USA head coach Billy Donovan said. "We'll have a little bit of time (Tuesday) morning to talk about them and get our guys familiar with Argentina, but I think right now the four teams left that are going to be playing for a medal - Brazil, USA, Argentina and Canada - all four of those teams have a unique style and some things they can hang their hat on and I think Argentina hangs their hat on their execution and being a physical, tough team."
After jumping out ahead 6-3, the U.S. found itself trailing for the first time in the tournament. Down 9-8 with 5:15 left in the opening quarter, the USA squad got points from four different players and went on an 11-0 run that left them leading 19-9 with 1:56 to play in the period.
POSTGAME QUOTES FROM STOKES
How about the defensive effort tonight, the U.S. allowed just 64 points.
“They ran pick and rolls and that’s something guys at the high school level don’t cover, it’s even hard on the college level, that’s our weakness now but it’s something we plan to keep working on.”
Having played college games, you know the home teams always have a good run in them. We’re you expecting that out of Brazil tonight?
“They played very passionate, and tonight was a college like atmosphere, it’s like going to Kentucky and Rupp. I hadn’t seen anything like that as far as from a country standpoint and how they were cheering their guys on even though they were down 20. We felt like we were, down… it was a great effort by Brazil.”
(E-mail Stan Crawley at firstname.lastname@example.org)