NEW YORK - Heading into halftime trailing 47-42, Team NYC was in desperate need of production from their top players. As Cheick Diallo, Chris McCullough, Isaiah Briscoe, Isaiah Whitehead and Thomas Bryant were each held under seven points, the squad from the Big Apple could not afford to give up bragging rights to Team USA for the second consecutive year. Behind big second half performances from the aforementioned players, New York turned a 10-point deficit in the third quarter into an 126-110 championship victory at a packed Gauchos Gym in the Bronx.
Two months removed from a tournament MVP performance at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, Diallo saved his best performance of the weekend for the brightest stage. Scoring 21 points and ripping down 13 rebounds, Diallo’s 14 third quarter points were crucial as NYC battled back from a double-digit deficit midway through the period. As Cleveland’s Carlton Bragg scored five of his 13 points in the third, NYC found themselves down 71-61 with 3:14 to go in the period. The New Yorkers would battled back, engineering a 15-5 run to end the quarter.
Going into the fourth tied at 76, NYC relied on Briscoe’s flashy ball-handling to facilitate offensive chances as the squad from the Big Apple put together a 22-15 run through the quarter’s first five minutes. Briscoe hooked up with the Syracuse commit McCollugh on back-to-back trips, resulting in powerful jams as NYC took a 98-91 lead with 6:40 remaining. NYC would push the tempo in the final minutes, using instant offense from Briscoe & Co. to defeat Team USA, 126-110.
For NYC, seven players scored in double figures, led by Diallo’s 23 and McCollugh’s 19. Bryant poured in 15, 10 of which coming in the second half. An hour after winning the Three-Point Shootout, the Brooklyn native Whitehead scored 13 points, nine of which in the game’s final two frames.
Taking control of a rowdy New York crowd, Briscoe’s Rucker Park-esque ball-handling was a definite momentum changer as the 2015 guard’s 11 points, five rebounds and six assists proved to make a huge difference in the win. Anytime Briscoe was matched up with a defender on the perimeter, the intensity in the gym was increased to ultimate levels.
For Team USA, tournament MVP Kelly Oubre had another solid outing, scoring 22 points, highlighted by an array of powerful driving slams. Oubre found his way to the free-throw line eight times, proving to be a force whenever he attacked the basket.
Outside of the Houston native, Stephen Zimmerman was impressive vs. Diallo, going for 19 points and six rebounds. Equally impressive for USA was Memphis guard Ladarius Chester, who literally came out of nowhere to win the event’s dunk contest. The 6′ guard showcased ridiculous vertical ability in a 16-point outing.
Georgia guard Ahmed Hill had another stellar outing on Saturday, going for 13 points and six assists. Hill’s facilitation of the USA offense, coupled with his elite ability to attack the basket and defensive presence on the perimeter helped raise his stock in New York.
After scoring 14 points in Friday’s scrimmage, Bragg was a threat from deep on Saturday, knocking down three triples in the second and third quarters en route to 13 points. The Cleveland native hit back-to-back from behind-the-arc to end the first half, giving the USA a 47-41 lead.
New York forward Terry Larrier scored all 10 of his points in the second half, highlighted by a stretch of back-to-back fastbreak dunks to put NYC ahead 104-91 with 5:08 remaining. Bronx forward Bashir Ahmed also scored in double-digits, going for 10 points off the bench. New York’s balanced-scoring proved to be the difference in Saturday’s win, as eight players scored at least eight points.
- Zach Fleer / @ZachFleerSP