Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FIBA Americas Cup 2011 -- USA Downs Brazil to Open Tournament

Opening Day in Cancun
The eight team field of FIBA U16 Americas Cup Tournament opened with three blowouts. The closest match was a 10 point Puerto Rico win over host Mexico (78-68), the second game played between the two in 48 hours. Of the three blowouts, the average margin of victory was 60.7 points, with Argentina's pasting of Costa Rico, 130-28, the most lopsided of the four game set. USA's 35 point win over Brazil, 105-70, seems almost mundane.

USA 105 - Brazil 70
Paced by Jabari Parker's 21 points through the first half, the USA built a comfortable 14 point lead, 33-19, in the first quarter, and then pummeled the Brazilians with a 22-3 second quarter rout, taking a 33 point, 55-22, lead into the half. The Brazilians won the third and fourth quarters to chip the final margin down to a 30 USA win. Jabari Parker, a 6-6 forward out of Simeon High School in Chicago, Ill, led Team USA with a double-double, scoring 27 points on 9-10 (7-7, 2-3) shooting from the field to go with a 2-2 performance at the line. Parker also snagged 10 rebounds (2-8-10) to lead the team in those two categories. Three other Americans, Jahlil Okafor (19 points), Stanley Johnson (14 points) and Aaron Gordon (11 points) scored in double digits. Luis Maia, from Sao Paulo, paced the Brazilians with 16 points on 5-6 (5-6, 0-0) shooting from the field and 6-12 shooting from the line. Crunching the game boxscore to develop some possession-based stats for the game...


The pace more closely resembles the NBA than high school or (Division 1) college ball in the USA. 95 possessions is rare even in exhibition games. The Americans shot an encouraging 55% (eFG%) from the field and managed to get to the line about once for every two Field goal attempts against a team that would be very competitive in Pool A. Of Team USA's offensive four factors, the turnover rate (23.1%) is troubling. Though partially negated by Brazil's own problems with turnovers (a whopping 31.4%), against a better shooting (and more steal-oriented?) opponent, that could spell trouble. Some possession-based stats for the individual players...

Conner Frankamp27.529.731.20.6733.
Justin Jackson60.016.819.01.0750.00.020.812.5
Tyus Jones32.
Larry Austin45.
Kendrick Nunn57.523.324.80.6015.00.07.940.0
Dom Collier15.
Aaron Gordon57.526.414.91.2183.38.734.5116.7
Jabari Parker50.024.728.61.93100.010.08.590.0
Stanley Johnson52.528.229.91.1854.59.521.318.2
Johnathan Williams32.512.18.81.3350.07.70.0200.0
Jahlil Okafor70.

A quick look at the percentage of minutes played suggests that Coach Don Showalter will continue to go with a deep (9-10 man) rotation, even against a team as potential competitive as Brazil, a team that will most likely compete for the 5/6 place spot in the last game of the tournament. The coach has 5-6 realistic offensive options available, good news given this is a tournament that will play five games over five days. A look at some of the defensive and secondary stats:

Player% MinDR%A Rate
Conner Frankamp27.514.348.9
Justin Jackson60.013.10.0
Tyus Jones32.50.018.1
Larry Austin45.08.725.6
Kendrick Nunn57.56.84.9
Dom Collier15.00.00.0
Aaron Gordon57.513.624.6
Jabari Parker50.031.40.0
Stanley Johnson52.57.50.0
Johnathan Williams32.524.10.0
Jahlil Okafor70.02.80.0

Okafor's defensive rebounding may be the explanation for his additional playing time. It may be a short sighted strategy however, as Okafor's rebounding may be more needed later in the tournament against Puerto Rico and Canada. Frankamp, a 6-0 guard out of Wichita North High School, Wichita Kansas, along with Larry Austin (a 6-1 guard out of Springfield, Ill) and Tyus Jones (a 6-0 guard out of Apple Valley, MN) appear to be comfortable distributing the ball, a good sign given the team has scorers in the front court. Aaron Gordon, a 6-8 low post player out of San Jose, California also appears to be willing to throw the ball back out to a perimeter shooter when the situation calls for it.

The men's team will take on current pool leader Argentina today at 6:00pm (eastern daylight) in an early pool showdown. The Argentines beat Costa Rico 130-28 to open tournament play yesterday.

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