SAO SEBASTIAO DO PARAISO, Brazil — The USA Men’s U18 team didn’t have to rely on Tennessee sophomore Jarnell Stokes quite as much in its second game in the FIBA America’s U18 Championship as it did its first.
In the USA’s 105-42 opening-round victory over the U.S. Virgin Islands on Saturday, Stokes scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds. A day later, the U.S. cruised again, this time 110-59 over Mexico. Stokes played just 14 minutes and contributed seven points and three rebounds.
Sunday’s victory was keyed by Maryland signee Jake Layman, who scored a game-high 18 points on 3 of 5 3-point shooting. The U.S. made just four of 23 3s, so Layman represented nearly all the team’s perimeter firepower.
“Jake Layman gave us really good 3-point shooting and obviously our frontcourt did a great job on the glass,” said USA coach Billy Donovan, who in his spare time is the head coach at Florida. “When we subbed everybody today contributed and gave us really good minutes. Everybody scored and I think when we subbed we didn’t really have a drop-off, everybody really contributed and helped.
The USA’s quickness, power inside, and defensive focus quickly took its toll on Mexico as the Americans jumped out to a 19-4 lead and never looked back.
Julius Randle (Prestonwood Christian Academy/ McKinney, Texas) helped start the U.S. on a 13-0 run that quickly took the resolve out of Mexico as the USA moved ahead 19-4 with 5:35 to play in the opening quarter.
The U.S. finished the first quarter strong and outscored Mexico 13-6 to grab a 32-12 advantage. Pressured and chased by the USA press, Mexico turned the ball over 10 times in the game’s first 10 minutes.
If Mexico held any hope of rallying, it was quickly dashed in the second quarter as the USA reeled off 18 consecutive points to take total command, 50-16.
All 12 USA players scored in the game. Besides’ Layman’s 18 points, Rodney Purvis, an NC State recruit, and Memphis signee Shaq Goodwin (Southwest DeKalb H.S./Decatur, Ga.) each contributed 13 points, Louisville recruit Montrezl Harrell (Hargrave Military Academy/Tarboro, N.C.) tossed in 12 and Randle contributed 11.
“I felt good shooting. They were leaving me open so I took the shots and I was putting them in today,” remarked Layman.”
Led by seven rebounds from Harrel and Goodwin, and six from guard Nathaniel Britt, II (Gonzaga H.S., D.C./Upper Marlboro, Md.), the Americans outrebounded the Mexican squad by a 50-38 margin.
The USA concludes Group A preliminary round action against host Brazil on Monday (June 18 at 5 p.m. EDT). The top two teams from Group A and Group B will advance to play for 1st-4th place, while the No. 3 and No. 4 ranked teams play out for 5th-8th place. The semifinals will be played on June 19, and the final round games will be contested on June 20.
In the hunt for a sixth gold medal, USA men's teams are 38-2 overall in previous FIBA Americas U18 Championships (formerly known as the Junior World Championship Qualifier), and have captured gold in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010, while winning a silver in 2008 and a bronze medal in 2002.