COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (June 24, 2014) -- In its toughest game of the tournament, the 2014 USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team (5-0) remained perfect with a convincing 113-79 victory over Canada (4-1) to claim the 2014 FIBA Americas Championship gold medal on Tuesday night at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The USA upped its record at the zone championship to 48-2 and has now medaled in every U18 competition, having won seven gold medals (1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2014), while capturing silver in 2008 and bronze in 2002.
The three USA team captains, Stanley Johnson (Mater Dei H.S./Fullerton, Calif.), who was named MVP of the tournament, Tyus Jones (Apple Valley H.S./Apple Valley, Minn.) and Justise Winslow (St. John's School/Houston, Texas), all of whom had previously won two gold medals on USA Basketball teams, combined for 47 points, 17 rebounds, nine assists and six steals.
"I'm just honored," said USA U18 National Team and University of Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who also led the 2012 USA U18 team and 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team to gold and owns a USA Basketball head coaching record of 19-0. "I think that as a coach in this kind of event, you're only as good as your players. I've been very fortunate that in he past three years, I've coached some great guys, great kids and have had some great coaches working with me. These guys were unbelievable to deal with. The bought in, they listened and they're the ones who really played well. I'm just happy I could be a part of it and be taken along for the ride."
"It's a team honor, really," said Johnson, who scored 12 of his 19 points in the first half, on winning MVP honors. "Anybody on the team could have gotten it; what's more important is winning the gold medal and all of us playing hard to get it.
"It's a great experience; it's my third time doing it," added Johnson, who finished averaging a USA-best 14.0 points and 5.4 rebounds a game. "Every team is different, every situation is different and it's all been really good. Now we're older and a lot of good coaching and it was tougher. Playing Canada last, it made us challenge ourselves and play better so to win the championship here is amazing."
Despite jumping out to a quick12-3 lead, the eventual 34-point win didn't come easy.
With the USA up 16-6 following a Johnson bucket at 5:47, Canada fought back by smothering the USA players defensively on nearly every possession, forcing the USA into 10 missed shots and four turnovers, while closing the gap to 18-15.
Donovan turned to his veteran leaders and they did not disappoint.
With 35 seconds left on the first quarter clock, Johnson drove the lane for the USA's first field goal over a span of 5:12. Jones followed that by making one of two free throws and the first quarter ended with a six-point U.S. edge, 21-15.
Canada continued to put on the pressure, while closing the gap to two points, 21-19, in the first minute of the second quarter. However, Winslow scored the first four points and got a steal in a 9-2 U.S. run that gave the red, white and blue some breathing room, 30-21, at 6:37. Then, with the United States up 34-26, Jones scored five points, Winslow had four and drew a charge, while Johnson scored at the line and got a steal in another 9-2 run that expanded the lead to 43-28 with 1:35 to play before halftime. The U.S., which struggled from the line early in the game, closed out the half going a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe, to take a 14-point, 49-35, lead to the locker room.
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