PORTLAND (Oregon) – (Staff Report from Official News Release) – It was somewhat fitting that in the 22nd edition of the Nike Hoop Summit that took place at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, it was Portland-born Cole Anthony (Oak Hill Academy, Va./New York, N.Y.) leading USA Basketball to a 93-87 win over the World Select Team.
One of the key matchups to watch coming into this game was Anthony squaring up against Nico Mannion (Pinnacle H.S., Ariz.) of Italy. Coincidentally, both players’ fathers played in the NBA, Greg Anthony (11 years) and Pace Mannion (six years). And indeed, each player ended up being the leading scorer for his team, with Anthony putting up 25 points and Mannion leading all players with 28.
The U.S. got off to a slow start, as the World Team ran out to a quick 7-0 run to start the game. The USA’s sluggish start made sense since the World Team had been practicing since Sunday, while USA only started practicing on Wednesday. The World Team looked more than ready to start the game, running their half court sets efficiently, whipping the ball around the perimeter to find the open shooter.
“To be honest, we haven’t talked about a single (opposing) player,” Mannion said prior to the game. “We’ve just been focused about what we’re going to do, we haven’t said a single name from Team USA in practice. We’re just locked in on us, focusing on what we got to do, coach has a game plan. We’re just focusing on our end to win the game.”
Towards the end of the first quarter, the U.S. managed to tie it with about one minute left after Matthew Hurt (John Marshall H.S./Rochester, Minn.) drilled a trey.
Anthony, who along with Hurt is undecided on a college for next fall, finally got on the scoreboard with a step-back 3-pointer to start the second quarter. And from there, he showed why he was ranked number two on the ESPN 100 rankings for the class of 2019. Anthony finished the second quarter with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Anthony told USA Basketball earlier how playing with this group of elite players helped him learn to play within the game.
“Learning how to pick my spots, not take bad shots,” Anthony said. “On a team like this, I don’t have to force up bad shots. I can take quality shots and that just makes me look that much better.”
The second quarter wound down with the World Team tightening up its defense, switching to zone and pushing the lead to 50-43 at halftime.
The World Team struggled coming out of halftime as the score inched closer at 58-54 around the five-minute mark. Towards the end of the third and through much of the fourth quarter, Mannion and Anthony went head to head and countered each other shot for shot.
“I thought it was really fun,” Anthony said. “I told him after the game, he had some fire in his eyes.”
The game came down to the wire until Isaac Okoro (McEachern H.S./Powder Springs, Ga.), who will play at Auburn University next year, came in as a defensive substitution and swatted Mannion’s go-ahead 3-pointer. From there, Anthony iced the game with four free throws to win the game for the United States, 93-87.
Anthony chipped in eight rebounds in addition to the 25 points. Mannion had an efficient night, with his 28 points coming on 12 shots, and adding five rebounds and five assists.
“Tonight was a tough game,” said U.S. head coach Scott Fitch (Fairport H.S., N.Y.). “We knew going in that it was going to be tough. They were very prepared. They were strong. I thought they played very physical tonight and pushed us around a little bit. I didn’t think that they would beat us on the glass, and they did. So, I’m really proud of our team for hanging in there, because I thought we showed a lot of culture. I think the culture kind of won the game tonight.
“I felt like we could’ve divided, and we didn’t. I thought Cole took over in a couple stretches and we’re very capable of – defensively subbed in a couple guys at the end and finally got to Nico a little bit. I think he played a great game. I thought the World Team was very prepared, and I thought they played extremely hard and tough. Just proud of our team for sticking it out.”
The World Team’s Precious Achiuwa (Montverde Academy, Fla./Nigeria) led all players with 28 minutes and made his presence felt throughout, finishing with 15 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and four blocks.
For the U.S., James Wiseman (East H.S./Memphis, Tenn.) was able to exert himself on the defensive end with six rejections. The future University of Memphis Tiger also finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and a nifty 360º spin move to the rack.
From the bench, future Duke University freshman Wendell Moore Jr. (Cox Mill H.S./Charlotte, N.C.) chipped in with 13 points, five rebounds and a game-leading plus/minus of 15 for the USA. The U.S. bench totaled 42 points compared with 31 from the World Team.