The United States, coached by the University of Kentucky’s John Calipari, jumped out to an 18-4 lead and cruised to a 108-48 victory in the FIBA U19 World Cup on Saturday in Cairo, Egypt.
It was the Americans’ first game in pool play in the tournament. They overcame a slow start during which they scored only four points in six-plus minutes.
“The first game is the hardest to get started and get your feet underneath you,” Calipari said in a report released by USA Basketball. “Even though we had a couple of exhibition games and both opponents were pretty good, we came out like ‘what in the world?’ We almost went a quarter, well we went six minutes, having four points — and how in the world we scored that many … But eventually we’re going to wear people down.
“Now the question is when we get one of the good teams later in the week, will we start better, will we play better, will we have some fire?”
Hamidou Diallo, who will be a freshman this fall at UK, led the U.S. with 17 points to go with four rebounds and two assists. PJ Washington, who is preparing for his first season at Kentucky, added 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.
“Every game you’re going to face some adversity. You just have to overcome it,” Diallo said. “In the first half our starters didn’t play as well, but the bench picked it up and gave us the spark we needed. That’s the type of team that we are, we can all do it.”
Three other Americans also scored in double figures — Carsen Edwards (15), Cam Reddish (14) and Brandon McCoy (14). McCoy, who will be at UNLV this fall, led the U.S. with 10 rebounds.
“One thing that I wanted to do when I came in was to grab every rebound, and I felt like I tried my hardest and did pretty good on that,” McCoy said.
Louis King’s all-around effort included nine points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Reddish and King are both UK recruiting targets.
Following the preliminary round, all 16 teams in the tournament will be seeded according to group play results and will advance to the July 5 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 7 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification. The medal semifinals will be held July 8, and the gold and bronze medal games are slated for July 9.
New Zealand 88, South Korea 81: Tai Wynyard, who will be a sophomore this fall at Kentucky, scored 16 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for New Zealand. He also had six rebounds and two blocks and was 10-for-11 from the field in just under 19 minutes on the court.
Wynyard had to sit for most of the first half after picking up two quick fouls.
“Tai got in early foul trouble, and with two quick ones we couldn’t risk him picking up a third in the first half,” New Zealand Coach Daryl Cartwright said. “For the most part we were controlling the tempo while he was on the bench, but Korea made a little run and we managed the rotation to get Tai out of that potential third foul situation and allowed him to play aggressive and strong in the second half. He dominated inside and made his presence felt with some key buckets.”
United States vs. Angola
12:15 p.m. ET in FIBA U19 World Cup in Cairo, Egypt