Butler’s Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward continued to turn in solid performances and the USA remained unbeaten with an 85-69 victory over Greece in the second round of the FIBA U19 World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand. The win was the fourth straight for the U.S. squad in the 16-nation tournament.
Mack played a team-high 26 minutes in the victory and finished
with eight points, five rebounds and three assists. Hayward
played 24 minutes and posted nine points, five rebounds, one
assist, one steal and one blocked shot.
Howard Thompkins of Georgia was the lone U.S. player to score in double-figures. The 6-9 forward hit 10 of 14 shots and led all players in the game with 22 points. Six other U.S. players tallied at lease eight points in the contest.
The U.S. led by just one point, 18-17, after the first quarter and by just five points, 41-36, at halftime. A pair of free throws by Hayward gave the U.S. a 63-53 advantage heading into the final period.
“I think this was good for us,” said Hayward after the game. “Coach (Dixon) talked about grinding it out and grinding out a win, and I think that was a good way to put it. We kind of struggled a little bit. I don’t know what it was. Greece is a good team. They played solid defense, solid offense on us, but we grinded out the win and that was the important part.
The U.S. hit 25 of 32 attempts from the free throw line in the win. Hayward nailed five of seven attempts from the charity stripe, while Mack hit all four of his attempts.
The U.S. will face a strong Puerto Rico squad on Tuesday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. (3:30 a.m. in the U.S.). Puerto Rico (3-1) boasts tournament scoring leader Michael Rosario, who’s averaging 31.8 points through four games and who scored 54 points against France in his last outing.