USA, Argentina, Brazil, Canada win in Day 1 of FIBA Americas U16 Championship
YUCATAN (Mexico) – The first day of the 2023 FIBA Americas U16 Championship tipped off on Monday with wins from all three of the 2021 medalists (USA, Argentina, Canada) and Brazil.
Playing at Poliforum Zamna in Merida, Yucatan, these four squads proved why they're strong favorites to vie for the title at the end of the week.
Here's a look at how the games unfolded:
In a reenactment of the 2021 edition's bronze medal game, Canada once again defeated Dominican Republic to go up 1-0 in Group B play.
The game featured the normal jitters of any tournament debut, with neither team able to shoot better than 32 percent from the field.
But in this back-and-forth affair that was tied at halftime, the North Americans made the most of their size advantage, led by 6'8 power forward Paul Osaruyi.
The 15-year-old had a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double and added four blocks for good measure. Point guard Jordan Charles chipped in 11 points from the bench for Christopher Cheng's squad, who dominated the boards (63-48) and capitalized on their second-chance opportunities.
Lucas Morillo scored a game-high 21 points for the Dominicans, going 8/20 from the field and adding six rebounds and six steals. Richard Fernandez (16 points and four steals) was their only other player in double digits.
Brazil had an excellent start to the tournament, routing Uruguay, 83-55, to jump atop the Group B standings.
Bruno Porto's squad broke the game open with a 22-10 second quarter behind a defense that held Uruguay to under 29 percent from the field.
They had four players scoring in double digits, led by Patrick Perna's 19. Point guard Nolan Kemm and power forward Pedro Fernandes added 17 points apiece, while big man Fabricio De Freitas contributed 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Brazil led most of the way on this one and were meticulous in generating advantages and profiting from them, illustrated by their 12-2 edge in points off turnovers and 25-13 lead in second chance points.
Uruguay benefitted from a hot start from Lucas Rodríuguez and Joaquín Taboada, but their offense sputtered in the second quarter and never recovered. Point guard Valentín Curbelo led the way with 15 points and 6 rebounds, with Rodríguez (13) as the only other double-digit scorer.
Team USA had an explosive debut in their quest to defend the title they won in 2021 – and earn their eight consecutive gold medal in the competition.
Sharman White's guys defeated Puerto Rico, 96-61 to jump to 1-0 in Group A play. They did through unstoppable interior scoring and a suffocating defense that kept the boricuas to 30.7 from the field and a frigid 24.5 percent on three-pointers.
Forward Cameron Boozer, son of former NBA star Carlos Boozer, notched a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double and was instrumental in outscoring Puerto Rico 54-24 in points in the paint.
Guard Darryn Peterson put on a show with 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and a pair of blocks and steals. Team captain Koa Peat added 14 points and 7 boards, while Anicet Dybantsa Jr. had 10 and 5.
And despite having an off night from beyond the arc (7 of 24) and the free throw line (11 of 22), the Americans built a double-digit lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
Puerto Rico got great contributions from Vince Stewart Jr. (18 points and 11 rebounds) and Felipe Quiñones (20 points on 7/13 from the field) but the team's 21 turnovers proved to be a mountain too high to climb against the tournament's favorite.
The best (or at least the most dramatic) game was saved for last, with Argentina upsetting the host country with a 61-59 victory after Mexico missed a jumper at the buzzer.
The South Americans overcame a 56-51 deficit in the fourth quarter and mustered just enough outside shooting, defense and rebounding to go up to 1-0 in Group A play.
Ohio-born Tyler Kropp was spectacular in his Argentina debut, going off for 21 points, 16 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks in just under 36 minutes.
¡Ganó @cabboficial 🇦🇷!. Derrota al anfitrión, México 🇲🇽, 61-59 en el cierre de la primera jornada del Grupo A del #FIBAU16Americas en Mérida.— FIBA en español (@FIBA_es) June 6, 2023
🔥 @tylerkropp_ 21Pts. 16Reb. 4Rob. 25Eff.
🏟️ Poliforum Zamná
📊 https://t.co/Xo97zRRaZU pic.twitter.com/xcajDwP9WV
The 6'8 forward shot 10/20 from the field and his rim attacks were instrumental in Argentina getting a 38-16 edge in points in the paint – production that was much needed after the team went 4/20 from beyond the arc.
The South Americans managed to shut down the paint and hold Mexico to just 32.7 percent from the field in what was a back-and-forth affair wire to wire.
Martín Torriani finished with 10 points and his three-pointer with 1:06 left put Argentina up for good. Iván Pratto and Matías Dominé added 9 points apiece.
During a few different stretches of the game, Mexico looked like the better team. They shot a solid 9/24 from downtown and their balanced attack produced four different players scoring in double digits.
Big man Karim Lopez, who played all 40 minutes, finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks and a pair of steals, while Edgar Grande, Angel Escarcega and Paulo Espinoza added 10 points each.
Grande, who was 3/3 from long distance, missed a last-second look that would've given Mexico the win.