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Team USA defeat Slovenia in FIBA U19 World Cup

Tad Boyle led Team USA to the 77-73 win.

FIBA

It wasn’t pretty, but Team USA gutted their way to a 77-73 win over Slovenia in the group stage of the FIBA U19 World Cup. The Americans struggled with shooting, turnovers and general ineptitude, but ultimately battled back thanks to gritty defense, rebounding and just enough crunch time points.

If that formula sounds familiar, that’s because this is a Tad Boyle team and he refuses to change his ways. Even more Tad-like is that the coaching staff have treated this like a wake-up to their players, signaling that despite their talent and athleticism they need to stay focused and bring it everyday or they could lose at any time.

The offense was clunky at the best in the first half. It seems clear that this team hasn’t been together for long and haven’t quite figured out where to set up on the offensive end. It didn’t help that Slovenia slowed the game down and packed the paint, forcing USA into some three-point attempts that weren’t going down. The only positives were Tennessee big man Tobe Awaka dominating on the boards and Asa Newman looking like a potential top pick in 2025. (Keep an eye on Jan Vide, the incoming freshman at UCLA. He looks like a stud.)

It seemed that Boyle’s halftime adjustment was to see how bad it would get before it got any better. That clunky offense got even worse and the Americans played truly awful team basketball. Unfortunately, no one struggled more than incoming freshman Cody Williams.

Williams’ shot is a work in progress and the Slovenians completely ignored him where he didn’t have the ball. He hesitated to take catch-and-shoot threes when the ball was swung to him. He couldn’t drive to the hoop with them sagging off, nor could he push the ball in transition in a down-tempo game. Boyle ended up benching him five minutes into the second half and he never got back in. It seemed like a combination of an night and a bad matchup, although that weakness will continue to be exploited in college and especially in the NBA.

After a number of defensive breakdowns and off-ball lapses, Team USA buckled down on defense, got some stops and began to push the pace. Arizona guard Kylan Boswell controlled everything on both ends of the floor, hit some tough mid-range jumpers and assisted a couple Tre Johnson baskets. Boswell might go under-the-radar, but he’s a real candidate to win Pac-12 Player of the Year and it’s going to be miserable playing against. It seemed less like the coaches adjusted the gameplan than gave the Boswell the reigns and asked him to get the win.

Next up for the Americans will be a Tuesday matchup with Lebanon. Team USA should wrap up the group stage with a win before moving onto the Round of 16 on Wednesday. All games are available for free on the FIBA website, both live and on replay.