By USA BASKETBALL
The 11-point, 98-87, win for the USA Junior National Select Team over the World Select Team in the 20th annual Nike Hoop Summit on Friday night at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, was closer than the final score indicated. In fact, with 2:43 remaining in the game the USA led by just four points.
Michael Porter Jr. (Nathan Hale H.S./Seattle, Wash.), who tied for the game’s leading scorer with 19 points and is headed to the University of Missouri in the fall, helped seal the win for the USA with six points, including two impressive slam dunks, in a 10-0 run that put the USA back on top 98-84 with 48.3 seconds left.
“First thing, the World Team gave us a heck of a game, and congrats to them,” said USA head coach Miles Simon (California Supreme). “They competed, and they gave us everything that we could handle.
“I told the guys in the locker room how well they bonded this week,” Simon added. “The chemistry was good. They were very unselfish. It was a very focused group, and they came in and played with a lot of intensity and a ton of toughness. Not an easy thing to do, putting together a team and playing as well as they did in such a short amount of time. So, a big credit to our guys and all of our staff.”
University of Kentucky-bound Jarred Vanderbilt (Victory Prep Academy/Houston, Texas) also scored 19 points to go with 10 rebounds and three assists. Michigan State University signee Jaren Jackson Jr. (La Lumiere School/Carmel, Ind.) recorded a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double, including seven offensive boards, and guard Collin Sexton (Pebblebrook H.S./Mableton, Ga.), who is slated to play at the University of Alabama in 2017-18, finished with eight assists and four steals.
Overall, the USA outrebounded the World Team 45-27, while collecting an impressive 20 offensive boards as a team.
“We played a great team, and I credit my team for not taking them lightly,” Vanderbilt said. “We took it to them. They have some great guys, great talent, but we stuck together. We played hard, and I’m just proud of my guys.”
Eight U.S. players scored for the USA in the first quarter, but buoyed by four 3-pointers, the World Team hung close, and the USA led 25-20 after the period.
In the second quarter, the World Team tied the score three times before full-court pressure from the USA after a media timeout at 4:56 helped to disrupt the World Team and give the USA some momentum. The USA rallied to nine straight points and lead 46-37 at 3:51.
Germany’s Kostja Mushidi (BC Mega Leks, Serbia), who set a World Team Nike Hoop Summit record for 3-point makes and tied the mark for 3-point attempts (4-7 3pt), sank his third 3 to end the USA’s streak. Both teams scored twice more to bring the halftime score to 52-44 in the USA’s favor.
The USA rebounding advantage was consistent throughout the game and was 24-14 in the first half, which included 13 offensive boards that led to 16 second-chance points. At the midway point, the USA also had nine steals and 13 turnovers out of the World Team.
“We didn’t have that juice to turn the game on our side, and normally, as always in my experience of 17 years of sitting on the bench for the World Team, we’ve had problems against the press,” said World Team assistant coach Marin Sedlacek (Serbia).
The USA’s shooting percentage fell to 31.8 percent in the third quarter (7-22 FGs), which helped the World Team cut into the USA’s lead. After the USA went ahead by as many as 11 points twice in the third period, the World Team outscored the USA 14-9 to head into the fourth period trailing 73-67.
The World Team scored first in the fourth quarter to make it 73-69, and while the international squad cut the gap to four points twice more, that was as close as they would come to the USA. Each time they threatened, the USA had an answer. Tallying eight assists on 11 made baskets in the final 10 minutes, the USA was a red-hot 61.1 percent from the field (11-18 FGs) during the fourth period.
The World Team also was hurt by poor free throw shooting, making just 6-of-15 (.400) in the fourth quarter and 18-of-33 (.545) overall.
“It was a great experience, and that wasn’t an easy win,” Porter said. “We knew from the beginning that it was going to be difficult. Every day in practice we went hard, we were focused and I’m just proud of the team for the way they came out.”
Jackson’s and Vanderbilt’s 10 rebounds tied the U.S. Nike Hoop Summit record, while the team tied the mark for assists with 23.
Mushidi led the World Team with 14 points, and Lindell Wigginton (Oak Hill Academy, Va./Canada) had seven assists.
USA guard Quade Green (Neumann-Goretti H.S./Philadelphia, Pa.) was unable to play due to previous injury.