Kentucky basketball’s John Calipari, Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington finished perfect in pool play at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup. Their Team USA toppled Italy 98-65 on Tuesday for a 3-0 record against Group D.
The Italians entered undefeated and gave the Americans an early fight, erasing a 10-0 deficit to take a 15-13 lead late in the first quarter. That’s when Washington took over. On his way to a game-high 20 points, the incoming Kentucky freshman scored six straight — two free throws, a steal and Superman slam, and a driving layup — to spark a 12-3 run.
Italy kept coming, though, and trailed by just 3 with 5:30 to go in the second quarter. From there, the Calipari-coached U.S. team closed the half on a 19-8 run to finally break its opponent.
In the second half, Washington delivered an array of highlights, looking like a 6-foot-8 point-forward: a defensive rebound and coast-to-coast finish; monster jam off a turnover; drive by one defender, spin past a second, up and under a third while screaming “and-one,” which it was; and finally an offensive rebound and nifty move to finish off the glass.
It was Washington’s best game yet in Egypt as he shot 8 of 9 from the floor and added 4 rebounds and 2 steals, while Diallo had his quietest day at 5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. All told, Team USA beat Iran, Angola and Italy by a combined 134 points and now awaits its seeding — almost certainly No. 1 — and will face Mali (0-3) in the Round of 16 on Wednesday at a time yet to be announced.
Mali lost to Canada by 49, Spain by 19 and Japan by 3 in pool play.
UPDATE: Kentucky sophomore Tai Wynyard struggled offensively — 3 points on 1-of-8 shooting — but led his native New Zealand in rebounds (9) and blocks (3) in a narrow, 74-70 loss to Argentina on Tuesday. Wynyard is averaging 12.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks through three games in the World Cup. His team will face the second-place team from Group B (either Lithuania, Germany or Egypt).
P.J. Washington stats through 3 games
Hamidou Diallo stats through 3 games
Tai Wynyard stats through 3 games
USA vs Italy highlights
What’s next for Team USA in the 2017 FIBA World Cup?
After pool play finishes on Tuesday, teams will be seeded and times and matchups set for the round of 16, followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and gold- and bronze-medal games July 5-9.
How can I watch Team USA in the 2017 FIBA World Cup?
USA vs Italy box score