3rd DIBF World Deaf Basketball Championship

U21 USA Deaf Men’s Basketball- Gold Medalists 

Washington DC, USA.             July 6- July 14, 2018

Opening Ceremony

The 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships (WDBC) kicked-things off with a vibrant Opening Ceremony on July 7th at the Donald Padden Field House on the Gallaudet University campus in Washington, DC. The ceremony began with a parade of teams – each nation gathered on the center court of the Donald Padden Field House as they were welcomed by the roaring and patriotic crowd.

Master of Ceremonies Todd Bonheyo (who also played in the U21 WDBC back in both 2010 and 2014) welcomed the attendees by sharing how proud and honored that the USA team feels to be the host nation for the third U21 WDBC. Bonheyo then dove into a bit of history about the U21 WDBC, interacting with the crowd as he asked them to recall where the 2010 WDBC was hosted (Lublin, Poland) and where the 2014 WDBC was hosted (Samsun, Turkey).

Once Master of Ceremonies Bonheyo’s opening remarks wrapped up, the Washington Wizards’ Cheerleading squad came onto the court and delivered a rousing performance. The Wizards Cheerleaders danced in unison and pulled off one scintillating dance move after another. Music was provided by the Def Familia DJ team led by Dee Brown.

After the Wizards cheerleaders’ performance concluded, Master of Ceremonies Bonheyo introduced several key leaders who worked to make this year’s event a success. In order of those who addressed the crowd, followed by their role: Chris Miller, the U21 Organizing Committee Chairperson; Andrew Reese, a representative from the Washington DC Mayor’s Office; Tiffany Williams, an USA Deaf Sports Federation Board Member; and last, but not least, Jurgen Endress the Basketball Technical Director for the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf.

Then, Master of Ceremonies Bonheyo welcomed Yakup Umit Kihtir, a representative from the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf, to center court. Umit Kihtir had the esteemed honor of declaring that the 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships was officially underway. After Umit Kihtir’s remarks, the official flag of the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf was raised inside of the gymnasium on full display for all to see.

Once the flag for the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf was raised, the Washington Wizards Cheerleaders returned to the court to deliver yet another exciting dance performance to close the Opening Ceremony before turning the floor over to Master of Ceremonies Bonheyo for his closing remarks. Master of Ceremonies Bonheyo closed things by wishing everyone a safe tournament and wished everyone good luck.

Day 1

USA Men’s Defeats Israel, 103 to 24, in 2018 U21 World Basketball Championship Opening Game

Date: July 7th, 2018

Team USA won 103 to 24 against Israel in their U21 World Basketball Championship opener on July 7th at the Gallaudet University Field House in Washington, DC, USA.

In the first quarter, team USA’s intense in-your-face style of suffocating full-court man-to-man defense was a vital key in their matchup against Israel. Led by starting guards Tajah Fraley (Greenville, SC) and Rogers Printup (Orange, CA), the USA defense caused one turnover after another and limited Israel to only 6 first quarter points and 8 first half points. Israel reached 6 points on a three pointer by forward Itay Itzhak Tassiri with just under 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter and did not score their next basket until guard Denys Kolomiyets scored a jumper at the buzzer at the end of the second quarter.

On the offensive side of the ball, team USA got off to a strong start with a quick three-pointer by big man Patrick Danen (De Pere, WI), who finished the game with 11 points and 5 rebounds. With that quick three on the scoreboard, USA never looked back, leading the entire game.

Noah Valencia (Riverside, CA) came off the bench and was impeccable in his role as a facilitator. His efficiency off the bench during the first quarter gave head coach Kevin Kovacs the room to start him in the second quarter. Coach Kovacs also shifted Fraley over to the wing at the start of the second, where he fell into even more of a groove during the second quarter. Valencia’s floor vision in the open court and smart playmaking decisions in running the half-court offense was a key factor in how team USA was able to extend their lead even further in the second quarter.

In the second quarter, team USA continued to be a force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the ball. Fraley on the perimeter and Connor Henze (Elk Point, SD) in the paint were both relentless and gritty with their ball pressure and tenacious with their rebounding, which led to a good number of opportunities for team USA. With a continued and ramped-up defensive intensity anchored by Fraley and Henze along with Valencia running point and serving as a catalyst for improved ball movement, by the end of the second quarter the game was well in-hand with a score of 57 to 8 in favor of team USA.

In the second half, Fraley continued to lead USA on offense (he had his game-high 20 points in the first three quarters alone) and team USA’s bench continued to show how deep they are. By the end of the third quarter, the score was 89, USA, to 18, Israel. Reserves John Werner, Jr. (Frederick, MD), Esau Zornoza (Fremont, CA), and Wilford Troup (Snellville, GA) had played substantial roles. Werner led the pack of pickpockets with a handful of steals, totaling 6 steals for the game. Zornoza provided both rebounding and offensive support by clearing 8 boards and scoring 9 points. Troup was efficient from long range, knocking down three from long-distance at a 50% rate and finishing with 13 points. On the opponent’s side, Tassiri led Israel in scoring, with 6 points. Tassiri along with Daniel Guervich both led the team in rebounds, with 4 caroms apiece. The final score was 103, USA, to 24, Israel. All of the games are available via livestreaming at http://usadb.us/pressbox/u21.html.

Game Note: Yuval Lahav is the head coach for Israel and the assistant coach is Adir Zarihan. Kevin Kovacs is the head coach for USA and the assistant coaches are John Perry and Keith Westhoelter.

Game Note: It was a physical game and action got chippy from the onset with 8:20 left in the first quarter. After corralling a loose ball, USA’s Jason Boateng (Dublin, OH) pushed the ball on a fast break and drove the lane, where he was met at the rim by Israel’s Gavriel Mayrov, who delivered a hard foul. Boateng then underhandedly tossed the ball at Mayrov’s chest in retaliation after the play and the referees issued him a technical foul for doing so.

Day 3

Fraley, Danen, and Ortman Push USA Men’s to a 95 to 28 Victory Over Australia in Day 3 of the 2018 World Deaf Basketball Championships

Date: July 9, 2018

After winning their Day 1 game against Israel by 79 points on Day 1 and being off on Day 2, USA went up against Australia in Day 3 of action for the 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships (WDBC) held on the Donald Padden court at the Gallaudet University Field House in Washington, DC.

USA Point Guard Noah Valencia (Riverside, CA) and wing Tajah Fraley (Greenville, SC) continued the good work they did in Game 1 with their hard-nosed defense and outstanding court vision. It was a mix of Fraley’s defensive stopping abilities and Valencia’s ability to weave in, out, and around the Australian defenders that led USA on a 15-0 run to open the game.

Defensively, the USA opened yet again with an intense style of defense that is becoming the team’s defining characteristic. Led by Head Coach Kevin Kovacs, the USA team seamlessly switched from using a full-court man-to-man press to a full-court zone press that frustrated the Australians and held them scoreless for the first 4 minutes of the quarter. Australia did not score until Ryan Jaeger hit an inside-the-paint bucket with just under 6:30 left in the first and by then, the score was 15 to 2 in favor of USA.

As the first quarter waned on, team USA made it a focal point to feed the ball inside to their post players Jason Boateng (Dublin, OH) and Connor Henze (Elk Point, SD). Boateng and Henze were able to utilize a mix of old-school post moves, from up-and-unders to drop steps, that led to the USA firmly establishing their lead by the end of the first quarter. After ten minutes of play, team USA held a 33 to 10 advantage over Australia.

At the start of the second quarter, USA continued to employ an intense in-your-face style of defense that was led by guards Fraley and Rogers Printup (Orange, CA). With about 8:30 left in the second, Valencia had a nice steal and ensuing assist to Fraley for a breakaway dunk; at this point, the score was 37, USA, to 10, Australia.

Throughout the rest of the second quarter the USA continued to slow the pace down, running half-court offensive sets designed to feed their post players. Connor Ortman (Norway, MI) also joined in on the post-up fun, scoring 5 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in the first half. When the Australia defense collapsed the paint to prevent Ortman and Henze from scoring inside, reserve guards Wilford Troup (Snellville, GA) and John Werner, Jr. (Frederick, MD) were sitting on the perimeter waiting to receive the ball for so he could launch his deadly catch-and-shoot three-pointers. Team USA’s ability to strike a nice balance between an inside and outside game led to a 56 to 15 advantage over the Australians by halftime.

At the start of the second half, team USA ceased running their full-court defensive sets but continued to play with a sense of urgency that would only exacerbate their lead further against the Australian team (Australia was held to only 2 points for the first 5 minutes of the third quarter and would go on to score only a total of 5 points for the quarter in total). With one steal after another by guards Valencia, Printup, and Werner, Jr. in the opening moments that led to a plethora of breakaway buckets, team USA was able to extend their lead even further, going up 70 to 15 by the midway point of the third quarter.

Australia was led by center Jarred Van Der Merwe, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Van Der Merwe was a large part of why Henze from team USA was held to 0 points in the third after scoring 9 points in the first half alone. Despite Van Der Merwe’s tenacity on the defensive end, the overall firepower at the USA’s disposal proved to be too much for the Australian U21 team. At the end of the third quarter, the deficit for the Australians stood at 58 points with a score of 78 to 20.

Big man Patrick Danen (De Pere, WI) opened things up for team USA in the fourth quarter with a beautiful three-pointer off of an assist from Printup. Danen would go on to finish with 15 points on 5 of 7 shooting to go along with 5 rebounds and 2 steals. After Danen’s long-range swish, team USA would go on to be consistent in their ability to apply pressure on both ends of the court. Both Boateng and Fraley brought the crowd to their feet when they each brought the force on two separate dunks that were the result of steals created by the USA defense. This consistency was key in team USA’s victory over Australia.

The game ended with a score of 92, USA, to 28, Australia. All of the games are available via livestreaming at http://usadb.us/pressbox/u21.html.

Game Note: Ryan Holloway is the head coach for Australia and the assistant coach is Sam Cartledge. Kevin Kovacs is the head coach for USA and the assistant coaches are John Perry and Keith Westhoelter.

Game Note / Key Stat Leaders:
USA: Fraley (17 pts, 7-11 FG, 2-5 3PT FG, 1 Ast, 1 To, 2 Stl), Danen (15 pts, 5-7 FG, 2-2 3PT FG, 5 Reb, 1 Blk, 2 Stl), Ortman (13 pts, 6-11 FG, 9 Reb, 1 Blk). AUS: Robins (6 pts, 3-5 FG, 5 Reb, 8 TO), Jaeger (4 pts, 2-6 FG, 4 Reb, 5 TO, 1 Blk), Van Der Merwe (6 pts, 5 Reb, 4 TO, 1 Blk, 3 Stl)

Day 4

Five Players Score in the Double Digits as USA Clobbers Ukraine by 45 on Day 4 of the Men’s 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships

Date: July 10, 2018

On Day 4 of the 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships, the USA (3-0) defeated Ukraine (1-1) by a score of 93 to 48 on the Donald Padden Court at the Gallaudet University Field House in Washington, DC.

With big man Jason Boateng (Dublin, OH) ruled out of today’s game due to a virus, USA Coach opted to insert Connor Henze (Elk Point, SD) into the starting lineup. The strong interior play on both sides of the ball by Henze and established starting center Patrick Danen (De Pere, WI) allowed team USA to open things up on an 11 to 0 run before a three pointer by Ukraine’s Danylo Bychkovyi made it 11 to 3 with just under 7 minutes remaining in the first. The Ukraine team played with a physical style that enabled them to hang in the game and prevented team USA from getting hot from the field. The Ukraine defense limited team USA to 48% from the field in the opening quarter, caused 2 USA turnovers, and hang tough in the rebounding game with 8 boards to USA’s 15. However, when reserve guard John Werner, Jr. (Frederick, MD) came into the game after starting point guard Noah Valencia (Riverside, CA) picked up two quick fouls with under 4 minutes remaining, he played with a graceful style that seemed to provide team USA with a calming presence. Rogers Printup (Orange, CA) provided much needed scoring in the first, leading team USA with two three-pointers and totaling 11 points in the first quarter alone. With Werner, Jr. running the point and with Printup heating up, ball movement and scoring for the USA offense was much improved for the remainder of the first, leading team USA to finish out the quarter in the lead by 16, with a score of 30 to 14. At the start of the second quarter, Valencia was re-inserted into the lineup and led the team to a quick 4-0 run to open things up. Despite the good start to the second quarter, Valencia picked up his third foul just two minutes in and USA Coach Kevin Kovacs had no choice but to sub in Werner, Jr. once again. And once again, Werner, Jr. played with the necessary poise in order for team USA to continue building their lead.

In addition to the offensive poise shown by team USA in the second, their characteristic in-your-face ball-hawking style of defense was on full display as well. In the second quarter team USA limited Ukraine to only 9% from the field and caused 12 turnovers and limited Ukraine to only 2 points. By the end of the first half the score was 47 to 16, with the advantage going to USA.

The third quarter was more of the same for both USA and Ukraine. Both teams continued to shoot under 50% with Ukraine and USA both shooting an identical 36% from the field. With around a minute remaining in the third, however, a highlight play by Tajah Fraley (Greenville, SC) in which he stole the ball, pulled off a behind the back penetration dribble move, and then went up for a double-pump layup brought the crowd to their feet in excitement. By the end of the third quarter, USA had established a 43 point lead and was up 70 to 27 over Ukraine.

In the fourth quarter, both teams heated up a bit more than they had been shooting in the first three quarters. Ukraine scored 21 points in the fourth off of an improved 46% from the field and hit 4 out of 6 three pointers to go along with that improved efficiency. As for team USA, they scored 23 points and shot 50% from the field and were paced by guards Werner, Jr. and Wilford Troup (Snellville, GA)’s combined 12 points in the fourth quarter alone. The final score was 93, USA, to 48, Ukraine. All of the games are available via livestreaming at http://usadb.us/pressbox/u21.html.

Game Note: Stanislav Kakovkin is the head coach for Ukraine and the assistant coaches are Yurii Netora and Vitalii Lavryk. Kevin Kovacs is the head coach for USA and the assistant coaches are John Perry and Keith Westhoelter.

Game Note / Key Stat Leaders:
USA: Printup (20 pts, 7-13 FG, 3-8 3PT FG, 3 Ast, 2 TO, 5 Stl), Danen (15 pts, 7-9 FG, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 TO, 1 Stl), Werner, Jr. (13 pts, 5-12 FG, 3-9 3 PT FG, 1 Ast, 1 TO), Fraley (12 pts, 5-16 FG, 1-7 3 PT FG, 4 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 TO, 6 Stl)

UKR: Bychkovyi (14 pts, 4-10 FG, 3-5 3PT FG, 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 9 TO, 1 Blk), Kulikov (13 pts, 5-10 FG, 3-5 3PT FG, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 7 TO, 1 Stl)

Day 5

Seven USA Players Score in the Double Digits in a 113 to 29 Rout of Lithuania on Day 5 of the Men’s 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championship

Date: July 11, 2018

On Day 5 of the 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships, the USA (4-0) defeated Lithuania (3-1) by a score of 113 to 39 on the Donald Padden Court at the Gallaudet University Field House in Washington, DC.

In a game that showcased how deep and talented the USA roster is, seven players finished with double digits in scoring as the USA made a statement game in their matchup against then-undefeated Lithuania. USA’s Rogers Printup (Orange, CA) delivered a stat-stuffed performance in which he scored 11 points, grabbed 9 steals, snagged 7 rebounds, and dished out 5 assists.

The defining defensive tenacity of team USA reared its face early on in the team’s Day 5 matchup against Lithuania. Led by Printup and Tajah Fraley’s (Greenville, SC) ball-hawking full-court pressure as well as the interior play of big men Patrick Danen (De Pere, WI) and Connor Henze (Elk Point, SD), the USA defense had limited the Lithuania offense to 27% from the field and caused them to make 17 turnovers after 10 minutes of play. To top things off on the offensive side of the ball, the USA shot an efficient 54% from the field during the first quarter and were led by Noah Valencia’s (Riverside, CA) 6 points as he swished two from long-range to go along with Printup’s team-leading 11 points. By the end of the first quarter, the USA was leading 31 to 7 over Lithuania.

In the second quarter, the USA continued to build their lead as they shot 54% from the field yet again and were paced by a well-balanced scoring attack led by Fraley, Valencia, along with reserve Wilford Troup (Snellville, GA). Also seen in place was their intense defensive pressure, which caused an additional 18 turnovers in the second quarter to go along with the 17 they had caused in the first. There were 14 steals in the second quarter – Reserve John Werner, Jr. (Frederick, MD) had 4 himself to go along with the 3 apiece that both Printup and Valencia had. By the end of the first half, the then-undefeated Lithuania squad had totaled a massive 35 turnovers and the USA had firmly established themselves in the lead with a 61 to 13 advantage.

While the USA had built a massive 48 lead in the first half, the Lithuania team refused to stop playing their infamous intense and physical brand of basketball. In the third quarter, the Lithuania defense made 4 steals and caused 6 USA turnovers. The Lithuania offense also started to come alive a bit more in the third quarter as they shot a much-improved 50% field goal percentage and were led by Marius Rimkus’ 7 points on 3-6 shooting in those hard-fought ten minutes. For team USA, their talented reserves were given plenty of time on the court during the third quarter and were led by Esau Zornoza (Fremont, CA), who sank a three-pointer on his way to 9 points in the quarter. After three quarters of play, the score was 87 for USA to 28 for Lithuania.

The final ten minutes consisted of even more distributed scoring by team USA as they shot their game-best 63% from the field in the fourth quarter and seven players in total were able to finish with more than 10 points (Zornoza was almost the eighth player as he scored 9 points, respectively). Valencia and Troup both led the team with 15 points each and were joined by Fraley, Danen, Werner, Jr., and Connor Ortman (Norway, MI) who all had 14 points in addition to the aforementioned 11 points scored by Printup. At the end of regulation, the score was 113, USA to 39, Lithuania.

Game Notes / Key Statistics Leaders:
USA: Fraley (14 pts, 5-9 FG, 1-3 3PT FG, 1 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 To, 2 Stl), Valencia (15 pts, 5-10 FG, 3-6 3PT FG, 2 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 TO, 1 Blk, 4 Stl), Printup (11 pts, 4-12 FG, 1-4 3PT FG, 7 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 TO, 9 Stl), Danen (14 pts, 7-11 FG, 5 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 TO, 1 Blk, 2 Stl), Werner, Jr. (14 Pts, 6-9 FG, 2-5 3PT FG, 6 Ast, 3 TO, 5 Stl), Troup (15 pts, 6-11 FG, 2-4 3PT FG, 2 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl), Ortman (14 pts, 6-9 FG, 6 Reb, 4 Ast, 3 TO, 1 Blk, 5 Stl), Zornoza (9 pts, 3-6 FG, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 TO, 3 Stl)

LIT: Grabauskas (7 pts, 3-6 FG, 9 Reb, 1 TO, 2 Blk), Suedas (9 pts, 4-6 FG, 4 Reb, 7 TO), Rimkus (7 pts, 3-10 FG, 1-7 3PT FG, 2 Reb, 5 TO), Gudenas (5 pts, 2-10 FG, 2 Reb, 8 TO, 2 Stl)

Game Notes / Coaches: Janis Skakun is the head coach for Lithuania and Gediminas Zukas is the assistant coach. Kevin Kovacs is the head coach for USA and the assistant coaches are John Perry and Keith Westhoelter.

Day 6

 USA Wins by More than 100 Points Against Canada in Quarterfinals of the Men’s 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championship

Date: July 12, 2018

On Day 6, the first day of Quarterfinals for the Men’s 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships (WDBC), the USA (4-0) defeated Canada (1-3) by a score of 126 to 23 on the Donald Padden Court at the Gallaudet University Field House in Washington, DC.

In the first quarter of play, team USA’s characteristic brand of intense full-court defensive pressure was once again on full display. Anchored by the ball-hawking defense of perimeter players Tajah Fraley (Greenville, SC), Rogers Printup (Orange, CA), and Noah Valencia (Riverside, CA), the USA defense caused Canada to make 10 turnovers and held them to just 4 points on 2-for-12 shooting from the field. In the paint, the USA’s rebounding efforts were led by post players Patrick Danen (De Pere, WI), Connor Henze (Elk Point, SD), and Connor Ortman (Norway, MI), who worked to pave the way for the USA to secure a 19 to 7 rebounding advantage over Canada after ten minutes of play. By the time the first quarter had come to a close, the USA was leading over Canada by 33 points with a score of 37 to 4.

Fraley was an offensive tactician in the first five minutes of the second quarter, scoring 13 points on a highly efficient 6-for-7 shooting from the field. In addition to Fraley and team USA’s outstanding play on the offensive side of the ball, the USA defense continued their good work in the second quarter as wel. Led by Fraley’s 3 steals, they went on a 26 to 2 run to start the quarter Overall, the USA defense efficiently limited Canada to just 26% from the field as they held them to just 8 points in 10 minutes of play. By the time halftime struck, the USA had built a massive 58-point lead, going up 70 to 12 over Canada.

After halftime concluded, the USA came out firing once again, opening things up with a quick three-point play after an and-one by Danen off of an assist by Henze. From there on, Danen and Henze continued to produce on the offensive end as the USA proceeded to score a slew of inside buckets on their way to going on a 13 to 3 run in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Fraley also got in on the fun, scoring emphatically on a fast break dunk in which he was given a delay-of-game warning for hanging on the rim too long. By the time the midway point of the third quarter had hit, team USA was up 88 to 15 over Canada. Led by the long-range shooting of reserve guards Wilford Troup (Snellville, GA) and John Werner, Jr. (Frederick, MD), the second unit for USA was able to close out the third on a 10-to-2 run. After thirty minutes of play, the USA extended their lead to 79 points over Canada with a score of 98 to 17.

USA opened the fourth quarter by going on yet another run over team Canada, this time a 22-to-2 run. After a three-point basket by Esau Zornoza (Fremont, CA) made the score 120 to 19, the USA had broken the 100-point lead mark with about 2:30 minutes remaining in the game. By the time the clock had run out of time, the final score was 126, USA, to 23, Canada.

USA head coach Kevin Kovacs employed a deliberate substitution pattern during the game that distributed playing time equally amongst each USA player and by the end of the game, each player had played within a tight window of 19-21 minutes on the court; nobody played less, nobody played more. Because of coach Kovacs’ substitution patterns, for the second straight game in this year’s WDBC, the USA team put a spotlight on their deep bench as seven players yet again scored in the double digits. Fraley and Troup led the team with 19 points a piece, Danen had 18 points, Valencia had 15 points, Ortman and Zornozoa had 13 points, and Henze had 12 points. In all, the USA was able to win by a grand total of 103 points because of their well-balanced and highly efficient offensive attack. Team USA will play the winner of the quarterfinals matchup between Ukraine vs Spain on Friday, July 13th. All of the games are available via livestreaming at http://usadb.us/pressbox/u21.html

Game Notes / Key Statistics Leaders:
USA: Danen (18 pts, 7-11 FG, 11 Reb, 2 Stl), Fraley (19 pts, 9-13 FG, 5 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 To, 1 Blk, 7 Stl), Henze (12 pts, 5-13 FG, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 TO, 2 Blk, 1 Stl), Ortman (13 pts, 5-8 FG, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 TO, 2 Blk, 2 Stl), Troup (19 pts, 7-14 FG, 4-9 3pt FG, 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl), Valencia (15 pts, 6-8 FG, 3-5 3pt FG, 2 Reb, 8 Ast, 4 Stl), Zornoza (13 pts, 6-15 FG, 1-3 3pt FG, 11 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 To, 1 Stl)

CAN: Paterson (4 pts, 2-10 FG, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 TO, 1 Stl), Sicoli (11 pts, 5-22 FG, 1-13 3pt FG, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 TO, 1 Blk, 1 Stl)

Game Notes / Coaches: Jeff Miller is the head coach for Canada and Devin Aikin is the assistant coach. Kevin Kovacs is the head coach for USA and the assistant coaches are John Perry and Keith Westhoelter.

Day 7

USA Narrowly Avoids Upset by Spain in Semifinals of the Men’s 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships

Date: July 13, 2018

The 2018 USA Under-21 Basketball Men’s World Championship Team (6-0) earned its place in the gold medal game of the 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships with a 78 – 73 victory in their semifinals matchup against Spain (4-2) on Friday evening on the Donald Padden Court at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.

In the first quarter, Spain opened up the game by playing a fearless and physical brand of basketball. Spain was able to pounce upon a surprised USA team by going on a quick 5-to-0 run after a slashing inside bucket by Miquel Angel Lario Navarro that was followed up with a corner three-pointer by Enrique Tosantos Fernandez.

The vaunted USA offense, after coming off of a 126-point game in their semifinal victory over Canada, was held to just two points in opening three minutes of the game as USA guard Tajah Fraley (Greenville, SC) was the only player able to score. Spain played very physical defense from the onset, especially on Fraley and post players Patrick Danen (De Pere, WI) and Connor Henze (Elk Point, SD).

Eventually, the USA dry spell on offense was broken up after a drive and a double-pump layup went in by wing player Rogers Printup (Orange, CA) with just over six minutes remaining in the first that made the score 4 – 7 in favor of Spain.

USA finally took their first lead of the game with a quick series of defensive stops and ensuing baskets: a corner three-pointer by guard Noah Valencia (Riverside, CA) followed up by a steal from reserve guard John Werner, Jr. (Frederick, MD) which in turn, led to an in inside bucket by forward Connor Ortman (Norway, MI). At this point, there were just under 5 minutes of play remaining in the first quarter with the USA holding 9 – 8 advantage over Spain.

Spain would refuse to go quietly into the night, however. They quickly traded punches with USA as it was a back-and-forth quarter for the remaining 5 minutes. The first 10 minutes of the game featured three lead changes as both teams played intense defense against each other and refused to back down from one another; each team made 5 turnovers apiece and there were a total of 13 personal fouls in the first quarter alone, with 8 issued to Spain and 5 to the USA. The 80 percent free-throw shooting to start the game by team USA was substantial for them as they fought they way to a 22 – 17 lead by the end of the first.

Up by five, the USA was able to open the second quarter by further extending their lead. At just under 5 minutes to play remaining in the first half, the USA had their largest lead of the game, going up by eleven points with a 34 to 23 lead. The success of team USA in the opening moments of the second quarter in large part was due to sturdy team defense, continued success from the free-throw line, big three-pointers made by Printup and Valencia.

The momentum swing teased by USA would not last for long as Spain hung in there and ramped things up on the defensive end. Spain would continue to play their physical brand of basketball as they knocked USA players down to the ground, one after another, on their way to holding USA to 31 percent to the field in the second quarter. On the other end of the court, Spain got hot from long range with offensive scoring bursts provided by Ibon Martinez Diago and Benat Larranga Ayerbe as Spain was able to pull off a 15-point swing to close out the half. In all, Spain would go on to outscore the USA by five in the quarter and tie the game by halftime. With 20 minutes of play to remain, the score was tied at 36 – 36.

The third quarter would go on to provide even more excitement from both of the national teams. Spain jumped out to take the lead first with an inside bucket by Miguel Gallego Carot followed up by a drive and a layup in response from USA’s Valencia. Both teams would continue to go back and forth at each other as there were four lead changes in the third quarter alone. Ultimately, the resurgence of the USA’s ball-hawking defense on the perimeter was the key as their backcourt players were able to snag 9 steals and hold Spain to just 1-for-7 from three-point range.

In time-outs called, while USA coaches Kevin Kovacs, John Perry, and Keith Westhoelter were convening amongst themselves to strategize, the leadership of Valencia was the glue that kept the team together. Valencia kept reminding his teammates to play team basketball on both ends of the court, to trust one another, and to go back at Spain just as hard as they were coming at the USA team. By the end of the third quarter, the USA had jumped out in front by four, leading 58 – 54 over Spain.

Nevertheless, being down to start the fourth quarter, Spain would persist. Spain would open the fourth by scoring first with an inside bucket by Gallego Carot but this was quickly followed up by fast break layups from Fraley and Printup. At around the 8-minute mark, Spain was down by six and momentum was seemingly swinging in favor of the USA but Spain refused to quit. Led by three-pointers by Martinez Diago and Gallego Carot, Spain would go on an alarming run over the next three minutes that gave them the lead once again and made the score 62 – 65 in their favor with just under six minutes remaining on the clock.

The final five minutes were a flurry of traded baskets with one lead change after the other that kept the entire crowd on their feet as the clock wound down. A three-pointer by Valencia tied things up with just under five minutes. The USA had a chance to extend their lead after a steal by Fraley led to Valencia pushing the break and dishing to Printup, who drew the foul but couldn’t sink either free-throw. Then, Spain seized the missed opportunity on their next offensive possession with Martinez Diago sinking yet another a three-pointer to give Spain the lead once again, 65 – 68, with just over four minutes remaining.

Fraley was then able to penetrate the Spanish defense on his way to making a layup while drawing a foul. After knocking in his free throw, the score was tied up at 68 – 68. A steal by Valencia led to a fast break bucket by Fraley and with that, the USA took the 70 – 68 lead with two minutes remaining.

Spain was able to take the lead yet again on their next possession after Raul Ruiz Freijo drove the lane and dished to Gallego Carot, who made the inside shot while drawing the foul. Gallego Carot was able to sink his ensuing free throw to make it a three-point play, giving the lead back to Spain with a 70 – 71 score and just over a minute left in regulation.

Down by one, the USA would take the lead for good on their next trip down the court with a clutch three-pointer by Valencia that gave them a 73 – 71 advantage. The USA made a nice defensive stop on the other end during the next play and then fed the ball inside to Danen, who missed his shot but was drew the foul and was able to make one of his free throws to give the USA a three-point lead.

Gallego Carot quickly scored for Spain by slicing through the USA defense for a layup to make the game 74 – 73. With 18 seconds remaining in the game, Fraley was able to sink a lay-up in response for the USA to make it 76 – 73. After Spain missed a desperation shot on their next trip down the court, Fraley was fouled and sank two clutch free throws to seal the game for the USA with a final score of 78 – 73.

Coming off of a quarterfinals victory against Canada in which the USA won by a 103-point margin, team USA had to fight tooth-and-nail to come out on top in their semifinal game against Spain. In a nail-biter of a game that was close from start to finish and featured 8 ties and 11 lead changes, ultimately it was the combination of several things that won the game for USA. Printup’s double-double of 13 rebounds and 27 points, the ice-in-their-blood clutch inside-outside play of Valencia and Fraley, and the team’s defining characteristic grit-n-hustle on defense were all key factors in the USA victory. In Saturday’s Gold Medal game, the USA will play Japan, who triumphed 91 to 66 over Poland in their respective semifinal matchup. All of the games are available via livestreaming at http://usadb.us/pressbox/u21.html

Game Note / Key Stat Leaders:
USA: Fraley (19 pts, 8-17 FG, 3 Reb, 5 Ast, 5 TO, 3 Stl), Henze (6 pts, 3-6 FG, 6 Reb, 1 Blk, 1 Stl), Ortman (8 pts, 1-3 FG, 6-8 FT, 4 Reb, 2 TO, 1 Stl), Printup (27 pts, 9-21 FG, 5-10 3pt FG, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 TO, 2 Blk, 3 Stl), Valencia (12 pts, 4-12 FG, 4-9 3pt FG, 4 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 TO, 6 Stl)

SPA: Gallego Carot (11 pts, 5-9 FG, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 TO), Larranaga Ayerbe (14 pts, 5-17 FG, 3-8 3pt FG, 5 Reb, 10 Ast, 5 TO, 1 Blk), Lario Navarro (15 pts, 6-20 FG, 19 Reb, 3 Ast, 5 TO, 2 Blk, 4 Stl), Martinez Diago (21 pts, 9-20 FG, 3-9 3pt FG, 11 Reb, 4 Ast, 7 TO, 4 Stl)

Game Notes / Coaches: Juan Vicente Velez Ramos is the head coach for Spain and Oscar Alloy De Gea is the assistant coach. Kevin Kovacs is the head coach for USA and the assistant coaches are John Perry and Keith Westhoelter.

Day 8

USA Under-21 Men’s Basketball Team Claims Third Straight Gold in 81 – 63 Defeat of Japan

Date: July 14, 2018

The USA defeated Japan by a score of 81 – 63 in the Gold Medal game of the 2018 Men’s U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships on the Donald Padden Court at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. The USA team defense was able to overcome a scorching performance by Japan’s Kazuma Tsuya, who scored nailed 6 three pointers on his way to 38 points. Tsuya, who plays professional basketball in Japan and played in the 2017 FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup, is a 6’2” wing player who can do it all – be it running the fast break and stopping on a dime to pull up for a three-pointer or using his excellent footwork in the post with his back to the basket against smaller-sized defenders – and his talents were on full display in tonight’s Gold Medal game.

The first quarter got off to a rousing start as there were three lead changes and at one point, Japan held the lead for over three minutes of length. However, once the USA defense got going, they were able to throttle the Japan offense, holding Japan to 38 percent from the field. While Tsuya was able to efficiently start the game with a 9 point scoring performance on 4 for 6 shooting, the rest of his team went 2 for 12 and struggled to get going against the intense pressure coming from the USA defense. The aggressive USA defense forced 4 turnovers and scored 8 points off of these turnovers in the first quarter. On offense, USA was paced by the scoring efforts of Tajah Fraley’s (Greenville, SC) 8 points and Rogers Printup’s (Orange, CA) 6 points. Fraley, who also grabbed 7 rebounds in the first quarter, was able to efficiently score by slashing to through the Japan defense and using his natural length to tip in one layup after another. By the end of the first quarter, the USA held a 22 – 15 lead over Japan, leading by 7.

During the second quarter, the vaunted USA offense made an appearance once again, as Noah Valencia (Riverside, CA) was an outstanding facilitator in his role as point guard and led an offense that shot a scorching 75 percent from the field on 12 for 16 shooting. Led by the play of Valencia, the offensive consistency of Fraley, and the resurgence of returning big man Jason Boateng (Dublin, OH), who had been out the last few games with a virus and was a physical force in the paint tonight, the USA offense was able to score 26 points in the second quarter on their way to a 48 – 24 halftime lead.

During halftime, Japan head coach Yoritaka Ueda must have delivered an inspiring motivational talk because in the third quarter, Japan came out and fought back against the USA team, outscoring USA by five in the quarter. The Japan defense, led by the play of Tsuya and Ryosuke Mitsui, held the USA offense to just 30 percent from the field and forced USA into making 4 turnovers in the quarter. On offense, Tsuya continued to remain hot from the field for Japan, knocking down 2 three-pointers on his way to scoring 10 points in the quarter. The way Tsuya was able to pull up for three was a majestic sight to behold. Watching him orchestrate the Japan offense felt like things were in slow-motion, he would pull off a crossover then a behind-the-back dribble which led to another crossover that put his defender on their heels. Then, as his defender would desperately try to recover with an extended arm in his face, Tsuya would rise up in front of them like a juggernaut, utilizing his picture-perfect shooting form as he made his way towards releasing the ball at the height of his jump. More often than not, the result of his shots were nothing-but-net swishes that lapped with the sound of rain hitting an umbrella. Tsuyua’s kinds of shots were what playground ballers refer to when they say they’re “making it rain” out there. Alas, despite Tsuya’s awe-inspiring performance and even-though Japan was able to outscore USA by five in the third, Japan was still down 62 – 39 at the start of the fourth quarter.

The final quarter of the game saw Japan continue to fight hard and outscore the USA team yet again, but not by enough to overcome the large lead established in the first half by the USA. Tsuya continued to give it his all, nailing two more three pointers on his way to scoring 14 points in the quarter on 50 percent shooting from the field. For the USA, Fraley and Printup paced the team in the fourth, combining to score 8 points and grab 6 rebounds. The final score resulted in an 18-point USA victory over Japan with a score of 81 – 63.

Game Notes / Awards: Japan’s Kazuma Tsuya was named Most Valuable Player of the Men’s 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships. USA’s Rogers Printup was named to the Best Five team for the Men’s 2018 U21 World Deaf Basketball Championships (the five strongest overall performers in the tournament were selected for this award).

Game Note / Key Stat Leaders:
USA: Edwards (12 pts, 6-11 FG, 6 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 TO, 1 Stl), Fraley (19 pts, 9-17 FG< 1-3 3pt FG, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 TO, 4 Stl), Printup (18 pts, 9-16 FG, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 5 TO, 1 Blk, 1 Stl), Valencia (7 pts, 3-10 FG, 1-7 3pt FG, 5 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 Stl)

JPN: Echizen (5 pts, 1-9 FG, 2-2 FT, 8 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 TO, 4 Stl), Tsuya (38 pts, 14-30 FG, 6-15 3pt FG, 4-6 FT, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 4 TO, 2 Blk, 1 Stl), Nagata (16 pts, 5-18 FG, 1-7 3pt FG, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 TO, 1 Stl)

Game Notes / Coaches: Yoritaka Ueda is the head coach for Japan and Keisuke Hamada is the assistant coach. Kevin Kovacs is the head coach for USA and the assistant coaches are John Perry and Keith Westhoelter.

 

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