The United States men’s under-19 team is heading into the World Basketball Championships quarterfinals and will play Russia. Team USA finished atop of Group F with a 5-1 record while Russia finished in fourth place in Group E with a 3-3 record. Other quarterfinal matchups will feature E1 Australia (5-1) vs. F4 Serbia, E2 Poland vs. F3 Lithuania and E3 Argentina (4-2) vs. F2 Croatia (3-3). Brazil (3-3), host country Latvia (3-3), Canada (2-4) and Egypt (1-5) were eliminated in the second round of pool play while Tunisia (0-3), South Korea (1-2), Taiwan (0-3) and China (0-3) were knocked out of in the first round of group play.
The United States, averaging 92 points a game, suffered their only lost of the tournament in their last game against Croatia 87-85. Team USA, who have surrendered an average of 75 points, has defeated Egypt (115-60), Croatia 80-78, China (82-66), Canada (83-54) and Lithuania (107-105 OT). Russia, averaging 78.8 points a game, have defeated Brazil (81-78), Tunisia (101-55) and Latvia (73-63) and have suffered defeats to Poland (87-70), Australia (85-78) and Argentina (73-70). Russia, who also allows 75 points a game, is ranked 11th by FIBA while Team USA is number one.
Team USA, who uses a seven man rotation, is led by University of Connecticut sophomore Jeremy Lamb. Lamb, who is averaging 18.1points on 46.7% shooting, has paced the USA in scoring the last two games pouring in 35 against Lithuania and 25 against Croatia. The 6’5″ Lamb is shooting 40% from three-point land and grabs four rebounds a game while also coming up with 2.5 steals. The United States are also getting double figure contributions from 6’2″ point guard Joe Jackson (14 PPG and 47.8% FG), 6’7″ small forward Doug McDermott (11 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 48.3% FG) and 6’9″ power forward Patric Young (10 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 70.6% FG).
Russia who has used their bench a little more than Team USA goes with an eight man rotation. Russia is led by 6’7 small forward Sergey Karasev (15.8 PPG, 4.5 rebounds and 45.3% FG), 6’5″ shooting guard Dmitry Kulagin (11. 6 PPG, 43.6% FG and 17.4% 3pt), 6’7″ forward Vladislav Trushkin (10.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 40.2% FG) and 6’1″ point guard Alexander Varnakov (10 PPG and 59.5% FG).
Team U.S.A. leads the championship in total rebounding collecting 44.2 rebounds a game and offensive rebounding grabbing 14 a game. Backup post player Tony Mitchell Jr. (University of North Texas) leads Team USA by grabbing 8 rebounds a game (2.8 on the offensive end) and is followed by University of Florida’s Young who has collected 7.5 rebounds including 3.5 on the offensive glass. 6’7 forward Khyle Marshall (Butler) has 20 rebounds in 77 minutes of action and 7’0 center Meyers Leonard (University of Illinois) has wiped two rebounds a game of the offensive glass.
Russia, who doesn’t have much height with the tallest player being 6’9″, ranked 13th out of the 16 teams in total rebounding with 32.8 a game and 14th in offensive rebounds with 10.3 a game. Trushkin, who grabs 5.1 rebounds a game, leads Russia while Karasev (4.1 RPG), 6’8″ power forward Alexsandr Gudumak (5 RPG and 1.8 offensive rebounds) and 6’9″ center Alexander Tikhonin (1.8 offensive rebounds) contributing.
The United States, whose game is predicated on athleticism and shooting, has shot 47.6% from the floor (second highest) and 35.5% from three-point range (third highest). The U.S. has three players that are shooting over 40% from long distance and they are Lamb, Jackson (45.3%) and McDermott (43.3%). During the championships, Team USA has launched 18.3 three-pointers a game and connected on 6.5 of those attempts.
Russia is shooting 44.6% from the floor (seventh best) and 31.8% so far for the tournament. Russia has made nine more three pointers than Team USA (48-39) but has attempted 41 more shots (151 to 110). Leading the way for Russia is Varnakov (6-12 3pters, 50%), Karasev (37.1%) and Trushkin (37.9%). 6’7″ reserve small forward Gleb Goldrev, who is averaging seven points and shooting 52% from the field (38.5% from three point range) might be Russia best pure shooter.
Prediction: The U.S. should breeze past Russia and into the semifinals as Team USA is just too big and athletic. Team USA’s only real concern, as long as Team USA defends and rebound like they have the entire tournament, is turnovers. Team USA is averaging 13.3 turnovers a game however; the bigger concern is Jackson who is averaging four assists and four turnovers a game.