After spotting Turkey (5-2) an 8-2 lead, the 2016 USA Basketball Men's U17 World Championship Team (7-0) turned on the ignition, went on a 19-0 scoring spree and continued to dominate for a 96-56 golden victory on Sunday night in Zaragoza, Spain.
The win, which was the largest margin of victory in a men's U17 title game, marked the fourth-straight gold medal for the USA in as many editions of the FIBA U17 World Championship for Men and now stand at a perfect 30-0 all-time in U17 play.
Collin Sexton (Pebblebrook H.S./Mableton, Ga.), who came off the bench to finish with 16 points, including 10 in the first quarter, and eight assists, was named the U7 World Championship MVP. Joining Sexton on the All-Star Five Team was his USA teammate Wendell Carter Jr. (Pace Academy/Fairburn, Ga.), who finished the night with 11 points and eight rebounds, as well as Lithuania's Arnas Velicka, Bosnia-Herzegovina guard Dzanan Musa and Spain forward Sergi Martinez.
Lithuania (5-2) defeated host Spain (5-2) 81-63 for the bronze medal, its first medal of any kind at the FIBA U17 World Championship. 2016 marked Turkey's first U17 berth and medal at the U17s.
"For having a group like this come together as well as they have, especially on the defensive end, was a real tribute to Miles Simon and Mike Jones," said USA U17 head coach Don Showalter (USA Basketball), who now owns a perfect 45-0 record at the helm of the USA U16/U17 teams since 2009. "It was one of those things where you don't plan on having a team that's going to be as quite as good as this, but every game, they got better and better. We really played well tonight."
"This is a great honor," said the ever humble Sexton, who follows previous U17 MVPs Bradley Beal (2010), Justise Winslow (2012) and Malik Newman (2014). "We've been working hard since June 10 being able to make the team and then win the gold medal is a big thing in itself."
Turkey started strong and attempted to take the USA out of its fast-paced style game with physical play. That resulted in the Turks being whistled for five fouls - three on Furkan Ayka, who earned his first start and averaged 1.0 points and 11.8 minutes per game in Turkey's first six games - by the 7:29 mark.
That's when the tide turned, however.
Trailing 8-2, Carter scored four straight to close to 8-6 at 7:07.
Sexton checked in at 6:59 and immediately made an impact, going to the hoop after a Troy Brown (Centennial H.S./Las Vegas, Nev.) steal, which knotted the score at 8-all.
"Coach always told me to come off the bench with energy, play defense, pick up a man full court and just do the small things, and it will pay off in the end," said Sexton.
After a stop, Kevin Knox II (Tampa Catholic H.S./Riverview, Fla.) drained with a 3-pointer and it was evident that there was no slowing down the Americans. Grabbing a board on the other end, Carter heaved a pass down to Gary Trent Jr. (Apple Valley H.S./Burnsville, Minn.) for a score and then got a steal and dunk to make the score 15-8 at 4:26.
"They attacked us early," said Showalter. "I think it was 8-2 or something and then our defense just swarmed them. They missed some shots, we would rebound and be able to run in transition off those rebounds. This group is such a good transition group that it's hard to keep up when you have 12 guys who can all do the same thing."
Release: USA Basketball